Easy Ways to Live Well: Steph McGovern discusses bloating
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Doctors have warned that they are seeing a virtual epidemic of bloating these days. The cause for the bloat can range from benign yet bothersome conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance or to serious diagnoses like cancer. But how do you know whether your bloating is a nuisance or a sign of something more serious?
Health experts have warned stomach bloating, which is prolonged, severe and accompanied with other worrying symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, weight loss or bleeding could indicate it may be something more serious.
Frequent bouts of diarrhoea are a hallmark symptom of IBS, as well as inflammatory bowel disease or coeliac.
The simple act of eating can strengthen intestinal contractions leading to diarrhoea episodes.
Experiencing constipation occurs when stools become backup up in the large bowel and could indicate food allergies or intolerances.
Weight loss is one of the main warning signs for serious bloating.
Experts warn if noticing weight loss despite no change to your diet especially if it’s 10 percent or more of your body weight, this should be a cause for concern.
Weight loss may be due to tumours which press on the intestines making a person feel full even after only a small amount of food.
The feelings of fullness may also be due to substances secreted by tumours which suppress a person’s appetite causing rapid weight loss.
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Blood in your stool with serious bloating is a cause for concern.
Bleeding should always be evaluated because it can be a sign of cancer, particularly colon or uterine cancer.
Bloating is one of the first symptoms of ovarian cancer that you may notice, but it’s usually considered a sign of advanced disease.
Bloating is different to abdominal swelling, where the abdomen is actually increased in size, although both of these features may be present, said Health Engine.
The health site continued: “If you experience abdominal bloating, it is important to see your doctor to make sure there is nothing serious present.
“In particular, if you have symptoms of diarrhoea, constipation, weight loss or bleeding from anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting blood or bloody or dark stools), there is a greater possibility that something more serious is present rather than just a functional problem.”
When you see your doctor, you should be prepared to answer detailed questions about:
- Duration of the bloating
- Your diet
- The relationship of the bloating to certain foods
- If you’re a female, any change in bloating during the menstrual cycle
- Any other associated symptoms
- Any past medical history
- Current medications
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