What Is Bloating And How Much Is Normal?

Lauren Bedosky
Medically Reviewed
May 27, 2020

Most of us feel bloated from time to time. However, if your stomach is constantly tight and swollen, there may be a bigger issue at play. Here are several reasons you may feel bloated 24/7.

What is bloating?

Okay, so you know what bloating feels like—an uncomfortable, sometimes painfully full belly—but do you know what it is? Well, bloating is a condition caused by excess air or gas that’s stuck somewhere in the digestive tract. “Bloating can be trapped gas in the large intestine, or it can be an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine that’s fermenting the food you’re eating and causing that bloat,” Cohen says. Then, your body eases that bloating by releasing the extra gas or air (i.e., belching and farting).

How much bloating is normal?

Bloating is one of the most commonly reported gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, according to research published in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology . But while bloating is common, only a certain amount is considered normal, or healthy.

“If you eat a huge meal and you’re a little bit bloated and gassy, that’s normal,” says Cori Cohen, RD , a dietitian and health coach at Parsley Health in New York City. You may also feel unusually full and tight if you scarf your food down quickly, as this may bring excess air into your stomach. “But if you’re experiencing it with almost anything you eat, and it’s hard to identify food triggers, that is a red flag,” Cohen says. “If you have been experiencing bloat and discomfort for a prolonged period (as in over a year) and/or you’ve had lifelong digestive issues, that’s when it’s time to dig deeper for root causes,” she adds.

Lauren Bedosky

Lauren Bedosky is a freelance health and fitness writer who specializes in running, strength training, and nutrition. She writes for a variety of national publications and businesses, including Men’s Health, MyFitnessPal, Livestrong, and Women’s Running. Lauren lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with her husband and their three dogs.

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