What causes distention in the abdomen for a 45 year old female?

Abdominal distention is quite a common phenomenon, which occurs when substances like gas or liquid accumulate in the abdomen. These substances cause your tummy and waist to extend beyond their normal girth. In addition to bloating, you may also experience cramps, pain, fullness and nausea. If left unchecked, the symptoms could worsen, further causing shortness of breath and pressure in the diaphragm. Therefore, it is best to identify the exact cause of the problem and get it addressed as early as possible.

Distention of the abdomen is not a condition, but rather, the symptom of a deeper, underlying problem. There are several factors that could have triggered off the outward bloating of your abdomen; some of them are quite serious and need to be addressed by a medical expert. Given below are the possible causes of abdominal distention in women:

  • Adverse reaction to certain medication
  • Aerogaphia or sleep swallowing
  • Ascites
  • Capillaria Philippinensis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Diabetes
  • Diverticulitis
  • Eosinophilic gastroenteritis
  • Fasciolosis
  • Functional dyspepsia
  • Heart failure
  • Hookworm disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Kidney stones
  • Kwashiorkor

The less common causes of abdominal distention include:

  • Bacterial food poisoning
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Celiac disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Parasitic infections like Giardia
  • Severe peptic ulcer disease

In case you have been through an abdominal surgery in the last few weeks, the distention may also be a side effect of the procedure. If your abdomen feels bloated only after a meal, it probably has something to do with your diet.

Your doctor will need to conduct a physical exam and perhaps several other tests, to identify the exact cause of the problem. You may also be asked to eliminate certain foods from your diet, to rule out the possibility of allergies or intolerances. The treatment path recommended will depend entirely on the findings of the tests.

Once it is determined that the distention is not caused by a serious medical condition, you could try a few home remedies and simple lifestyle changes to address the problem. These include:

  • Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly
  • Avoiding liquids during or immediately after meals
  • Consuming small and light meals at regular intervals
  • Having your meals at the same time each day
  • Practicing certain exercises and yoga poses
  • Quitting practices like smoking, drinking with a straw and chewing gum
  • Reducing your intake of foods that cause gas
  • Walking for about 10 to 15 minutes after eating

While these suggestions are quite safe, it is best to check with a doctor before incorporating any changes to your diet and exercise schedules


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003123.htm
  2. Chang L, Lee OY, Naliboff B, et al; Sensation of bloating and visible abdominal distension in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Dec;96(12):3341-7

answered by G M

Abdominal distention is a result of cirrhosis, ovarian cyst, irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy, or unconscious swallowing of air. Generally, it is caused by intestinal gas.

  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat in moderation.
  • Decrease emotional stress.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages and drinking through a straw.

answered by r k

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