Search

Abdomen - swollen

Definition

A swollen abdomen is when your belly area is bigger than usual.

Alternative Names

Swollen belly; Swelling in the abdomen; Abdominal distention; Distended abdomen

Common Causes

Abdominal swelling, or distention, is more often caused by overeating than by a serious illness. This problem can be caused by:

Home Care

A swollen abdomen that is caused by eating a heavy meal will go away when you digest the food. Eating in moderation will help prevent swelling.

For a swollen abdomen caused by swallowing air:

  • Avoid carbonated beverages
  • Avoid chewing gum or sucking on candies
  • Avoid drinking through a straw or sipping the surface of a hot beverage
  • Eat slowly

For a swollen abdomen caused by malabsorption , try changing your diet and limiting milk. Talk to your doctor.

For irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Decrease emotional stress
  • Increase dietary fiber
  • Talk to your doctor

For a swollen abdomen due to other causes, follow prescribed therapy to treat the cause.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • The abdominal swelling is getting worse and does not go away
  • The swelling occurs with other unexplained symptoms
  • Your abdomen is tender to the touch
  • You have a high fever
  • You have severe diarrhea or bloody stools
  • You are unable to eat or drink for more than 6 - 8 hours

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history, such as:

  • Time pattern
  • What other symptoms occur at the same time? For example, have you had:

Tests that may be done include:

References

Mcquaid K. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. . 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 134.

Squires RA, Postier RG. Acute abdomen.In:Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. . 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 47.

Media

    Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.