Abdominal distension

Abdominal Distension

Abdominal distension is a condition in which the stomach or abdomen becomes abnormally enlarged or swollen. It usually occurs due to bloating and the buildup of gas, but may also be caused by underlying medical conditions.

Abdominal distension can cause discomfort in the abdomen and other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and abdominal pain. It can also be associated with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, pumps, and organs such as the liver and pancreas.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Pressure, tightness, or fullness in the abdomen
  • Distended abdomen (visibly bloated)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flatulence (passing gas)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea or constipation


The cause of abdominal distension can vary from person to person, and can include conditions such as:

  • Gastritis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Intestinal infections
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Medications such as antibiotics
  • Excessive fluid intake
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia


Treatment of abdominal distension depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, such as gastritis or Crohn’s disease, lifestyle changes and dietary modifications may be necessary. In more severe cases, medications and surgery may be needed.

Treatments may include:

  • Fiber supplements or probiotics
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Antispasmodics for abdominal cramps
  • Medications to reduce stomach acid
  • Surgery to remove part of the digestive tract


Abdominal distension can lead to serious complications if left untreated. These may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Malnutrition
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Sepsis (blood infection)