Distended Stomach: What Is a Distended Abdomen and How to Treat It?

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distended stomachAfter a meal of fatty food or having too much alcohol, your stomach may become bloated and offer discomfort and pain. A distended abdomen can usually be a mild case of fluid retention or a digestive issue. It may also be the result of an underlying health condition that can lead to severe complications. We will look at the causes as well as how to get rid of a distended stomach.

So, what is a distended stomach? A distended stomach refers to a swelling of the abdomen itself. The symptoms of nausea, discomfort, and pain are among the signs of this condition, with bloating being first noticed with snug-fitting clothes. The causes of a distended stomach can vary from mild digestive issues to more serious health conditions such as bowel obstruction and cancer.

What Causes Distended Stomach?

To treat a distended stomach condition, it is important to know why it is happening in the first place. Internal and external factors contribute to distended stomach causes.

1. Constipation

A distended belly can be a sign of constipation as your intestines become overextended with stool. This condition may be caused by insufficient water and fiber intake or avoiding regular exercise.

2. Digestion

Bloating, gas, and stomach distention are common effects of digestive issues. The conditions of gastrointestinal disorders of celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis are directly related to the distention.

3. Fluid Retention

You may have experienced fluid retention from time to time as body fluids collect in and around the abdomen cavity. It is also known as edema or ascites. It is usually the cause of clothes feeling snug and rings becoming tight on the fingers. Discomfort also may turn into pain around the joints. Fluid retention is also a result of life-threatening conditions such as liver disease and cancer.

4. Infection

An infection within the abdomen can cause the stomach to become inflamed and bloated. You should watch for accompanying signs including pain, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and redness.

5. Dehydration

Balancing your intake and output of fluids and electrolytes are crucial for maintaining hydration. Stomach distention can be caused by dehydration as it hinders proper digestion and results in bloating. The more water you drink, the more hydrated you will become, and the less swollen your stomach will be.

6. Food Sensitivity

Sometimes the food we love does not love us back as it can cause stomach distention as well as gas and discomfort. Being sensitive to foods can go hand-in-hand with food allergies. Categories under these issues include dairy products, nuts, shellfish, and bread products.


Also known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO can damage the lining of the stomach and cause bloating. The abnormal growth of harmful bacteria can happen with the prolonged use of certain medications, ingestion problems, and inflammation.

8. Bowel Obstruction

A bowel obstruction occurs with a tumor or scar tissue within the bowel. Excruciating pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and an inability to have bowel movements accompany a distended stomach.

9. Hormones

Hormone changes during the menstrual cycle can cause bloating of the lower stomach, fluid retention, and constipation. Severe stomach distention is a cause for concern when accompanied by strong pains from cramping, an irregular cycle, or fibroids.

10. Cancer

A distended stomach from cancer is uncommon but can signal uterine or colon cancer. These may be present when the bloating does not subside, and digestion problems increase.

Distended Stomach Symptoms

A distended stomach can be a nuisance. It usually carries an array of symptoms aside from the bloating.

You may also experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort
  • Satiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Belching
  • Fatigue
  • Cramping
  • Pain
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Hives
  • Watery eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of concentration
  • Hemorrhoids

How to Treat a Distended Stomach

Many times, a distended stomach may be able to be treated with home remedies, and some cases do not need any treatment other than time. We have compiled a list for distended stomach treatment based on the cause.

1. Food-Induced

If your bloating is present after eating a big meal or spicy food, you may be able to settle it by allowing time for digestion. You may experience discomfort and pain as well. Limit or avoid foods that irritate your stomach and take small bites.

2. Gas-Induced

You can prevent stomach distention from gas can by avoiding beans, cabbage, and broccoli, as well as other foods that cause you to have gas and bloating. One such culprit is carbonated drinks such as soda.

3. Dairy Product-Induced

That delicious dish of ice cream you could not decline may be the cause of gas buildup and stomach distention. Limit or avoid dairy products, especially if you think you may be lactose-intolerant.

Any existing medical condition that causes your bloating should be treated in accordance with your ongoing medical care. It is important to recognize any significant changes in your condition.

A distended stomach condition is a common occurrence that is usually associated with a variety of other symptoms. It can be present in mild health conditions such as constipation and digestive issues, or it can signal a more serious condition such as cancer. If the bloating does not subside after trying a few home treatments, or if any other symptoms you are experiencing worsen, seek medical attention.

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