Swollen Abdomen

Also known as: distended abdomen, abdominal distention, distended stomach, bloated abdomen, bloated stomach

What is a swollen abdomen?

When the area of the body around the stomach is bloated or larger than it usually is, this is the sign of a swollen abdomen. Causes can range from overeating to more serious medical conditions.

What might cause swollen abdomen?

If the abdomen is swollen after a large meal, it’s likely a sign of overeating. Other medical causes may include:
  • Intestinal gas from eating high-fiber foods
  • Swallowing air
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Weight gain
  • Pregnancy
  • Bowel blockage
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Fluid buildup
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Uterine fibroids

How can it be treated?

For some cases of swollen abdomen, the following approaches can help:
  • Avoid carbonated beverages
  • Avoid foods known to cause gas like beans and cauliflower
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Don’t use drinking straws
  • Steer clear of dairy products
  • Eat more slowly
  • Quit smoking

When should you seek medical attention?

If a swollen abdomen does not appear to be related to your diet, is growing worse or not improving, is tender or is accompanied by a high fever, diarrhea or bloody stools, talk to your health care provider.

Reviewed by: Luxme Hariharan, MD

This page was last updated on: February 12, 2020 03:47 PM