Bloating in the stomach area has many causes, the primary ones being swallowed air, gas-producing foods, hormonal changes and weakened abdominal muscles, according to WebMD. Other causes include conditions such as intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome and gastroenteritis, notes Healthline.
Bloating occurs when the stomach fills with gas, making the abdomen appear larger than usual and feeling hard to the touch. Bloating can result in discomfort and pain, explains Healthline. About half of the gas in the stomach is swallowed air. This occurs mainly due to eating too quickly, chewing gum and drinking through a straw. Some foods, particularly those that contain indigestible sugars including beans, lentils and artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, can also cause bloating.
Abdominal bloating is common in women, particularly those experiencing hormonal imbalance because of menstruation or weakened abdominal muscles due to surgery or pregnancy. Gastroenteritis is another common cause, a condition characterized by bacterial or viral infections of the bowel and stomach. Bloating can also occur when intestines get blocked, preventing food from moving along the alimentary canal. Ways of avoiding bloating include losing weight, avoiding gum chewing and drinking through a straw, eating slowly and using lactose-free dairy products, says Healthline.