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 (or abdominal distenstion). 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 can be from overeating.  Other medical causes may include:

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 (causes you to swallow extra air)
  • Don’t use drinking straws
  • Steer clear of lactose containing dairy products
  • Eat more slowly

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: Shifra Koyfman, MD

This page was last updated on: August 26, 2020 12:53 PM

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The Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is dedicated to the treatment of a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems in infants, children and adolescents with a multidisciplinary approach.

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