Stomach Ulcer Bloating
Many people who experience bloating after eating attribute it to a stomach ulcer. However, bloating is not one of the normal stomach ulcer symptoms. It is possible for this to occur in the case of perforation, but perforation is typically accompanied by extreme pain.
The truth is that most people actually experience relief from their ulcer discomfort after eating, as food can helps protect the stomach lining from stomach acid. So what could cause bloating if it is not an ulcer? We will take a look at that below.
Bloating After Eating Causes
There are a variety of things that could cause stomach bloating, but the three most common things are:
- Food Allergies
- Bile Reflux
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Below, you fill find more information on each of these bloating causes and what you can do to avoid or prevent it from occurring in the future.
Food Allergies and Irritating Foods
The most common cause of bloating is food allergies. After all, bloating involves the digestive tract filling up with air. If you have trouble digesting certain nutrients, bacteria will interact with these nutrients which will lead to bloating.
There are a lot of common food allergies and irritating foods:
- Diary (lactose) – includes milk, yogurt, cheese
- Tree nuts – includes almonds, walnuts, and more
- Peanuts – a separate allergy from tree nuts
- Gluten – found in virtually all grain products
- Fructose – large quantities of fructose have been known to induce bloating
- Other sugars – certain sugars like oligosaccharides (found in beans among other foods) can trigger bloating as well
Many people consider food allergies to be “black and white”: either you are allergic or you are not. This is a major mistake; just because you do not experience hives or difficulty breathing does not mean you do not have a mild allergy to a food.
Allergies to foods actually fall along a continuum; with some being very allergic to foods, some being not bothered by them at all, and many falling in the middle. If you fall in the middle, lactose might cause bloating but may not necessarily cause pain or diarrhea.
The easiest way to check for this is to perform an elimination diet. Remove all of the foods above for two weeks to see if bloating disappears. If it does, add each one back into your diet slowly and see if bloating returns. If it does, you know exactly what food caused the bloating and you can avoid it in the future.
Bile Reflux, Gastritis, Dyspepsia, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The gall bladder is a small organ which stores bile. Bile normally is secreted after eating and helps the body digest fat. Normally, bile stays in the small intestine, but if there is something wrong with the pyloric valve (the junction of the stomach and small intestine which normally only allows food to move from the stomach into the small intestine and not vice versa), bile may flow backwards into the stomach. This is known as bile reflux.
The most common reason for bile reflux is complications due to previous gastric surgery or a peptic ulcer on the pyloric valve which prevents it from functioning. If this one-way valve’s function is interrupted, bile may flow backwards and enter the stomach, leading to gastritis.
The bile duct can also be blocked by gallstones. Gallstones do not typically result in bloating but rather in abdominal pain and also strangely results in referred pain in the upper back and right shoulder.
If you have painful bloating after eating or non-painful bloating that does not go away after removing common allergies, you will definitely want to mention this to your doctor. If an H pylori test comes back as negative, the an endoscope may be performed to check for abnormal pyloric valve function among other things.
Gastritis refers to an inflammation of the stomach lining. The most common causes of gastritis are H pylori infection (the bacteria which can lead to ulcers) and excess use of alcohol or chewing tobacco. A doctor can test for the presence of H pylori with a simple urea breath test.
Dyspepsia is a general term which refers to upset stomach. Dyspepsia may be caused by gastritis or irritating foods, but also has some less common causes. Should a food elimination diet fail to eliminate bloating, you should see a doctor to get an actual diagnosis.
One of the most common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is stomach bloating. IBS is an unusual disorder, typically idiopathic (no known cause) which results in unusual colonic muscular contraction and activity in general, which can result both in constipation and diarrhea.
The most common recommendations for IBS are lifestyle changes, given its idiopathic nature. Elimination diets (to remove irritating foods) or just avoidance of commonly irritating foods and alcohol is a common recommendation. Starting an exercise program, getting more sleep, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression also seem to help significantly reduce bloating related to IBS.
If lifestyle changes fail to reduce bloating and other symptoms caused by IBS, medication may be prescribed by your doctor. Many modern medical professionals prefer to start with lifestyle changes as medication is not always effective and may have side effects, though your doctor can help guide you on which option would be best for your individual case.