What is the Link Between Abdominal Bloating and Shortness of Breath?

Abdominal bloating is an extremely common condition that almost everyone has at some point or the other. It is common for abdominal bloating to occur after a long weekend or after a festive season. However, if abdominal bloating becomes too frequent and does not have an obvious cause then it may indicate an underlying medical illness like issues with the digestive tract or some dietary problems. A person can experience abdominal bloating due to excessive gas, constipation, swallowing air, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease.[1, 2, 3]

Abdominal bloating will cause the stomach to look larger than normal. There will also be tightness and fullness in the stomach. Sometimes, there may also be abdominal pain. There have been some cases where a person with abdominal bloating tends to have problems with breathing.[1, 2, 3] This article highlights whether there is any link between abdominal bloating and shortness of breath.

What is the Link Between Abdominal Bloating and Shortness of Breath?

It is not uncommon for person to have abdominal bloating and shortness of breath occurring in tandem. This is usually caused due to the impact that sometimes abdominal bloating can have on the diaphragm. It is a sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. It is the diaphragm that facilitates breathing in a person. A bloated abdomen will exert pressure on the diaphragm thus interfering with its normal movement. This affects the breathing resulting in shortness of breath.[3]

In some cases, certain medical conditions that impact the lung capacity of a person may also cause shortness of breath and abdominal bloating. These conditions include cystic fibrosis and COPD. Some of the benign causes of both abdominal bloating and shortness of breath include:[3]

  1. Overeating: This is an extremely common cause of abdominal bloating and resultant shortness of breath. This is seen generally during festive season like Christmas or Thanksgiving.[3]
  2. Foods and Additives: There are certain additives and foods that increase production of gas. This gas puts pressure on the diaphragm causing shortness of breath. Some of the foods that cause gas include beans, lentils, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners.[3]
  3. Pregnancy: This at times can also cause abdominal bloating along with shortness of breath. This is generally seen towards the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third trimester. This is because the fetus is at a stage where it starts to put pressure on the diaphragm of the female.[3]
  4. Medical Conditions: There are also certain medical conditions of which some are potentially serious that can cause both abdominal bloating and shortness of breath. These conditions include food allergies, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, hernia, gallstones, ascites, anxiety disorder, problems with pancreas, COPD, cystic fibrosis, peripheral disease, and ovarian cancer.[3]

If a medical condition is responsible for abdominal bloating and shortness of breath then there will be additional symptoms like coughing, wheezing, increased mucous production, fatigue, dizziness, and unintentional weight loss. If a person suspects that an underlying medical condition is causing abdominal bloating and shortness of breath and experiences the symptoms mentioned above then it is mandatory to consult with a physician and get checked up for early diagnosis and treatment.[3]

In conclusion, abdominal bloating and shortness of breath can occur separately or concurrently. The cause for this is both benign and at times serious. The main reason for shortness of breath due to bloating is the pressure that a bloated abdomen exerts on the diaphragm. It is this sheet of muscle that moves up and down when a person breathes. Anything that impacts the normal movement or outs pressure on this structure can result in shortness of breath.[1, 2, 3]

Certain food products that produce excessive gas like carbonated beverages, beans, lentils put pressure on the diaphragm causing shortness of breath. Sometimes during pregnancy, especially at the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third trimester, the fetus moves and puts pressure on the diaphragm causing both abdominal bloating and shortness of breath.[1, 2, 3]

Additionally, there are also certain medical conditions that can cause both abdominal bloating and shortness of breath. However, in such cases there will be additional symptoms observed that have been detailed above. If a person suspects that abdominal bloating and shortness of breath is caused by a medical condition then it is best to consult with a physician to get diagnosed and start treatment for it as soon as possible.[1, 2, 3]

This is especially if the person experiences severe abdominal pain, change in bowel and bladder habits, vomiting, and dark tarry stools. A trip to the emergency room is warranted in cases where a person experiences abdominal bloating with shortness of breath along with chest pains radiating to the arms and neck, chest tightness, vomiting and choking as it may indicate something far more serious that requires immediate attention.[1, 2, 3]

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