Causes of abdominal distension include gas, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and ascites, states Healthline. This condition can also result from weight gain, gallstones, an ovarian cyst and a blockage in the intestine.
Foods high in fiber can cause gas production, causing abdominal distension, explains Healthline. Swallowing gas can also cause this condition, and it can occur from drinking through a straw, sucking on hard candy, drinking carbonated beverages rapidly and chewing gum, notes WebMD.
Lactose intolerance is an inability of the body to digest lactose, which is a sugar present in dairy products, reports Healthline. It occurs from a deficiency of the intestinal enzyme lactase, causing nausea, flatulence or passing gas, abdominal pain and abdominal distension, according to MedicineNet.
Irritable bowel syndrome affects the large intestine, causing constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating, says Mayo Clinic. As of 2015, the cause of this syndrome is unclear, but triggers include bacterial overgrowth, stress and food allergy.
Abdominal distension also occurs from the buildup of fluid inside the abdomen, or ascites, mainly due to cirrhosis, or scarred liver, explains Healthline. In early stages, the patient may not have any noticeable symptoms, but the abdomen may continue swelling with time. Patients should eat slowly to prevent swallowing air and avoid drinking carbonated drinks and eating foods that cause gas, such as broccoli, beans and cabbages, to relieve symptoms of abdominal distension.