How to Banish Belly Bloat
When It's Time to See a Doctor
Sometimes bloat can be the sign of something more serious. Three conditions to rule out:IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
Characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and chronic diarrhea and/or constipation, IBS affects up to 15 percent of people in the United States, and about two-thirds of them are women, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "A lot of women aren't aware they have it," says Spencer Dorn, MD, an IBS specialist and gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Only about half of people with IBS see a doctor about it." Treatments include prescription meds and lifestyle and diet changes.Celiac disease
About one in 133 people in the United States suffers from celiac disease, otherwise known as gluten intolerance. "When people with CD eat gluten, the tiny hairlike projections in the small intestines that absorb nutrients from food are damaged, causing abdominal pain, gas, and bloating," says Dr. Chokhavatia. The disease, which is diagnosed with a simple blood test, is easily missed because its symptoms closely mimic those of conditions like lactose intolerance; it takes patients 10 years, on average, to be diagnosed, according to the Celiac Sprue Association.Ovarian cancer
Bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and frequent urination can be signs of ovarian cancer, according to the Foundation for Women's Cancer. "Ovarian cancer is rare in younger women, but these symptoms should always be checked out," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2011.
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