Feeling full and swollen: 11 causes (and how to relieve them)

The feeling of a full stomach and bloated belly is a symptom that can be caused by common situations, such as excess gas, indigestion or pregnancy, or even by more serious situations, such as stomach cancer or irritable bowel syndrome.

Depending on the cause of the feeling of a full stomach and swollen belly, other symptoms that may also arise are abdominal pain, nausea, feeling short of breath, diarrhea, constipation or headache.

Treatment for the sensation of a full stomach and swollen belly should be carried out by a general practitioner or gastroenterologist and varies depending on the cause of this symptom, and may include the use of pharmacy remedies, home remedies, diet or surgery.

Watch the video below and learn more about the causes of a swollen belly:

Possible causes

Possible causes of a feeling of fullness in the stomach and bloating are:

1. Gases

Intestinal and stomach gas is the accumulation of air in the stomach or intestine, which causes symptoms such as a feeling of fullness in the stomach, bloating and shortness of breath, abdominal pain, excessive flatulence, chest pain or constant burping, for example. Learn more about the symptoms and how to eliminate gas .

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2. Gastroesophageal reflux

The feeling of a full stomach and swollen belly is one of the symptoms present in gastroesophageal reflux , a condition generally caused by changes in the functioning of the sphincter located between the esophagus and the stomach, causing the stomach contents to return to the esophagus.

3. Celiac disease

Celiac disease is caused by permanent intolerance to gluten, causing inflammation and damage to the intestine, leading to symptoms such as a feeling of fullness in the stomach, bloating and diarrhea, weight loss, excess gas and constipation. Check out all the symptoms of celiac disease .

4. Gastritis

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining that can cause stomach pain, a feeling of fullness and bloating, indigestion, malaise, frequent belching and flatulence, and a burning sensation .

Gastritis can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of anti-inflammatory medications, infection caused by the H. pylori bacteria, but it can also be a consequence of stress and nervousness.

5. Bowel obstruction

The feeling of a full stomach and bloated belly may be present in intestinal obstruction, an emergency situation that occurs when feces cannot pass through the intestine due to a blockage in its path.

Bowel obstruction also causes symptoms that may worsen over time, such as difficulty passing stool or gas, nausea, or abdominal pain. Learn how to identify the symptoms of bowel obstruction .

6. Food intolerance

Food intolerance , such as lactose, gluten or fructose intolerance, is a condition that can cause a feeling of fullness and bloating, irritability, headache, abdominal pain and itchy skin.

This happens because the body, under these conditions, is unable to properly digest some foods, due to the absence or lower quantity of digestive enzymes in the body.

7. Irritable bowel syndrome

Some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are excessive gas, a feeling of fullness in the stomach and bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

It is believed that some factors that can increase the risk of intestinal inflammation and cause the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are stress, depression, intestinal infection and food allergies, for example. Learn more about the possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome .

8. Pregnancy

The feeling of a full stomach, swollen belly and nausea are some of the symptoms of pregnancy. This happens because the increased blood flow and the growth of the uterus cause abdominal swelling.

Additionally, common changes in the hormones progesterone and estrogen, and the production of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin during pregnancy, can also cause constipation and nausea.

9. Poor digestion

Indigestion is a situation that can occur after consuming very fatty foods or drinking too much liquid during a meal, for example, slowing down digestion and causing symptoms such as a feeling of fullness in the stomach and bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, frequent burping and nausea.

10. Stomach cancer

The feeling of a full stomach and swollen belly, abdominal pain, weight loss and constant heartburn are some of the symptoms present in stomach cancer, a malignant tumor that can appear in any part of this organ.

Some factors that can favor the development of stomach cancer are a stomach infection by  Helicobacter pylori  and the presence of an ulcer or untreated chronic gastritis, for example.

11. Ascite

Ascites , or “water belly”, is the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid inside the abdomen, which can cause symptoms such as a feeling of fullness in the stomach, a swollen belly and shortness of breath, a feeling of heaviness and pressure in the belly and weight gain for no apparent reason.

Ascites is a condition that can be caused by several diseases, such as liver cirrhosis, fulminant liver failure, congestive heart failure, peritoneal tuberculosis, AIDS, kidney, endocrine, pancreatic and biliary diseases, and lupus, for example.

Tips for relief

To relieve the feeling of a full stomach and swollen belly, the use of pharmacy remedies, diet, home remedies and surgery may be recommended.

1. Pharmacy medicines

The pharmacy remedies prescribed by the doctor, which vary depending on the cause to be treated, are:

  • Antiflatulents,such as simethicone and dimethicone, for cases of excess gas;
  • Acid production inhibitors,such as omeprazole, pantoprazole and cimetidine, for the treatment of gastritis and reflux;
  • Diuretics, such as spironolactone and furosemide, to help treat ascites;
  • Antacids,such as aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide and calcium carbonate, for cases of gastritis and indigestion;
  • Antibiotics,such as clarithromycin combined with amoxicillin or metronidazole, which may be indicated to treat gastritis and ascites;
  • Immunosuppressants and corticosteroids,such as prednisolone and cyclosporine, which may be prescribed in the treatment of celiac disease;
  • Probiotics and digestive enzymes,which can help treat food intolerances and irritable bowel syndrome.

In cases of stomach cancer, the doctor recommends chemotherapy, which consists of administering medication to eliminate cancer cells, which can be taken orally or injected into the veins.

2. Home remedies

Some home remedies to relieve the feeling of a full stomach and bloated belly are:

  • Peppermint tea, which has anti-inflammatory, antiemetic and digestive action, helping in the treatment of gastritis, indigestion and excess gas;
  • Chamomile tea ,as it has digestive and anti-inflammatory action, helping to relieve indigestion,
  • Lemongrass tea, indicated to complement the treatment of gastritis, reflux and indigestion;
  • Basil tea, which helps relieve excess gas, improves digestion and prevents stomach pain;

These home remedies should preferably be used under the guidance of a doctor or other professional specialized in medicinal plants. This is because, although they are generally beneficial, they also have contraindications and side effects.

3. Diet

The diet to relieve the feeling of a full stomach and bloated belly varies depending on the cause of this symptom. In general, you should prioritize the consumption of natural foods that are easy to digest and do not irritate the stomach, such as fruits without skin or seeds, cooked vegetables, tubers and white bread.

Foods that should be avoided are mainly those rich in fiber and that stimulate the formation of gases, such as green leafy vegetables, beans, eggs, processed foods and foods rich in fat such as butter, cream cheese, milk and red meat.

People with lactose intolerance should avoid milk and dairy products, such as butter, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Those with gluten intolerance should exclude foods made with wheat, barley, malt and rye from their diet, such as cookies, cake, biscuits, bread, beer and pasta, for example.

Read also: 12 foods that cause gastuasaude.com/foods-that-cause-gases

4. Surgery

Surgery to unblock the intestine may be indicated in more severe cases of intestinal obstruction, to allow feces to pass through the intestine again.

Furthermore, in the case of stomach cancer, surgery is usually indicated, to remove only the tumor, a part of the stomach, or the entire stomach, as well as the lymph nodes in the region, depending on the stage of the disease.


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