In doing some research for this article, I found around 50 different medical conditions associated with bloating. Most of these conditions are related to digestive issues, but also include pregnancy and stomach cancer. Obviously this will not be a comprehensive list of things to do about bloating, so we will concentrate on the less severe conditions which are fairly easily treated.
Indigestion is a common cause of bloating. It can be the result of overeating, or eating foods which our bodies do not digest well. Many of us have particular foods which we know affect us this way and we have to either avoid them, put up with the effects, or do something to relieve the bloating. An effective way to eliminate this problem is to take digestive enzymes. Our bodies make these enzymes for the specific purpose of digestion, but for several reasons we don’t always have enough of them. There are both animal source digestive enzymes, and plant sources. An advantage of the plant source enzymes is that they can work at all ph (acidity) ranges. In severe situations, it might be necessary to suppress the stomach acid with one of the pharmaceutical drugs, but this in itself could increase or aggravate the bloating being treated in the first place.
Associated with indigestion are the various food allergies such as gluten and other foods to which our bodies can have an allergic reaction. This can lead to bloating of the stomach or bowel, and again we have the choice to avoid the offending foods entirely, suffer, or try to fix the problem. One of the ways we can find out which, if any, foods we are allergic to is an elimination diet. In the elimination diet, in simple terms, all potential offending foods are removed from the diet until symptoms are gone, then adding back the most likely suspects one at a time while observing for any return of symptoms. Once we find the offending allergen the person has to avoid it.
Another reason we have bloating is an inability to digest certain substances in foods. The most common example of this is lactose (or milk sugar). People who suffer with milk intolerance lack the enzyme which is specific for breaking down that form of sugar. This is an easy fix, since we now have over-the-counter products containing the missing enzyme lactase. If you have an intolerance to something else, there is not usually such an easy solution. Sometimes a digestive enzyme with a broad range of the various enzymes can stop the problem, but this would be on an individual basis.
Other causes of bloating are more serious. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition usually associated with alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. Mild forms of this condition can be treated by dietary modifications and some nutritional supplements. More severe forms need to be treated by your physician. Even more serious are the conditions known collectively as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The disease itself is fairly rare, but bloating is a common complaint for those who experience it.
For the vast majority of people who experience bloating, there are usually easy fixes related to the diet. Others require some kind of supplement to fix the issue and still others are serious enough to seek medical care.