Bloated upper abdomen


A bloated one Upper abdomen is a common complaint. The cause is usually harmless, but there is often a great deal of suffering. There is often a connection to nutrition. So possibly a Food intolerance be the cause. In very rare cases it can also be a sign of a serious illness for example the liver or a Cancer act. Even with one pregnancy After a few weeks, the abdomen bulges out and may appear bloated, but it continues to grow and there are almost always more signs.

root cause

A distended upper abdomen usually has one Air accumulation in the Gastrointestinal tract in front. This in turn can have different causes. Usually it is nutrition responsible for the flatulence of the upper abdomen. When many foods are broken down in the intestines, they arise Gasespuffing up the stomach. For certain foods like Cabbage, Beans or broccoli more gases are released than others.
Also beverages with much carbonic acid can puff up. If larger amounts of such foods are consumed, it can lead to a bloated upper abdomen.

The gastrointestinal tract is different in every person and has an individual character Bacterial colonization that are important for digestion. Therefore, different people are also prone to a distended upper abdomen differently. Some can consume large amounts without developing discomfort and others are plagued by a bloated upper abdomen even from smaller amounts.
Often there is also one Food intolerance such as a so-called Lactose intolerance (Lactose intolerance) or a Fructose intolerance (Fructose intolerance). In such people, the consumption of dairy products or foods rich in fructose (fruit, ready-made products) leads to symptoms such as a bloated upper abdomen.

Constipation can also cause gas to accumulate in the intestines to cause the stomach to bloat. Furthermore, a bloated stomach can also result from water retention. However, inflation of the upper abdomen alone is atypical. A doctor can differentiate between water and air as the cause through a physical examination and possibly an ultrasound examination.
If it comes to a slowly increasing upper abdominal distension, it can in rare cases also be a benign or malignant tumor. If necessary, this can then also be felt.

Read more on this topic at: Gastrointestinal disorders (surgery)

In women of childbearing potential, a pregnancy test should always be carried out if the abdomen is swollen and not only intermittent. Even if this is rarely noticeable through swelling of the abdomen alone, pregnancy should be ruled out before further diagnostics are carried out.

Liver disease as a cause of a bloated upper abdomen

The liver is located in the upper abdomen and can swell considerably in certain diseases, such as Pfeiffer's glandular fever. The liver can be felt enlarged by a doctor, but the organ enlargement usually does not lead to a distended upper abdomen. However, if you have severe liver disease, for example after long-term alcohol abuse or untreated severe inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), the liver may become scarred (cirrhosis of the liver).

Read more on this topic at: Flatulence from alcohol

The organ that is responsible, among other things, for the production of blood proteins can no longer fulfill this task at some point. The lack of protein means that more water is drawn from the blood into the tissues and into the abdomen. There is sometimes massive water retention and an often very bloated stomach. For the same reason, starving children usually have a bulging stomach. The insufficient amount of proteins in the blood is due to malnutrition.

Read more on this topic at: Liver diseases and functions of the liver

When can a distended upper abdomen occur?

Bloated upper abdomen after eating

A distended upper abdomen most often occurs after eating. Especially when eating hastily, more air can be swallowed. Often, however, the symptoms do not occur immediately but with a delay of up to several hours. The food must first pass through the stomach. It is then located in the intestine and can be broken down here with formation of gas. While some air is produced naturally during digestion in the gastrointestinal tract, this gas formation is greatly increased in some people. Usually there is an intolerance to certain foods. Attention should be paid to the food after which the symptoms appear. Keeping a food diary can be helpful here. In addition to the food eaten, it is noted when and how intensely the upper abdomen becomes flatulent. In this way, conclusions can often be drawn about the responsible foods and the occurrence of a bloated upper abdomen can be avoided through a correspondingly conscious diet.

Read more on this topic at: Food intolerance

Bloated upper abdomen after drinking coffee

Coffee consumption is harmful to the gastrointestinal tract in many ways. The best known effects of coffee on digestion are the acceleration of digestion and the liquefaction of the stool. Coffee consumption also stimulates hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, which in the long term can lead to considerable symptoms such as heartburn, stomach ulcers and changes in the mucous membrane of the stomach and esophagus.The increased hydrochloric acid also affects the digestive processes in the downstream sections of the intestine. It leads to the fact that significantly more gases are produced as digestive products and lead to a bloated stomach with discomfort and pain.

You might also be interested in this topic: Abdominal pain from drinking coffee

Bloated upper abdomen during pregnancy

Many women fear being pregnant if they have bloated upper abdomen. However, abdominal flatulence due to a growing child does not occur in a short time and cannot go away again quickly either. Basically, a woman's stomach swells continuously every month during pregnancy. Most of the time, however, other symptoms such as a missed menstrual period, morning sickness or water retention appear beforehand.
Pregnancy very rarely goes unnoticed and is only noticeable as a slow swelling of the abdomen. If there is a suspicion, a pregnancy test can be used to obtain certainty. If you are unsure, you can also consult a doctor.

Read more on this topic at: Signs of pregnancy

Bloated upper abdomen during menopause

Menopause describes the period before and after the last menstrual period in women, which can last over 10 years and is associated with various symptoms. The cause of the physical complaints are hormonal changes that occur due to the intermittent monthly cycle. The hormonal changes and thus the symptoms can start several years before the onset of menopause. The hormone estrogen drops considerably, which means that other hormones can also drop or rise. In particular, an increase in the body's own stress hormone “cortisol” can lead to digestive problems, which can be accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and flatulence. Altered digestive processes lead to the formation of more intestinal gases, which can lead to a significantly inflated upper abdomen and cause unpleasant pain.

Further information on this topic can be found at: Menopause symptoms

Concomitant symptoms

A distended upper abdomen often leads to a feeling of fullness because pressure is exerted on the stomach located there. It can also lead to nausea and stomach acid belching (medical: reflux). Since there is usually too much air in the intestine, flatulence often occurs. Depending on the cause of the distended upper abdomen, additional symptoms can occur. In the event of food intolerance, many people also suffer from intestinal cramps and diarrhea after eating the corresponding food. These symptoms can also appear after a few hours or days.

Read more on this topic at: Bloated stomach

Bloated upper abdomen with pain

A distended upper abdomen that is accompanied by cramping abdominal pain indicates a food intolerance or an intestinal disease. A slowly increasing, painful swelling in the abdomen may also be inflammation or a malignant disease and a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

Read more on this topic at: Abdominal pain in the upper abdomen

Bloated upper abdomen with a feeling of fullness

A bloated upper abdomen is usually accompanied by a feeling of fullness. This can either be due to the fact that the stomach itself is bloated or that adjacent loops of intestine are bloated and exert pressure on the stomach from outside. The body signals that the stomach is too full, which is perceived as a feeling of fullness. The more the upper abdomen is distended, the stronger this feeling is. This usually improves at the same time when the bloating of the abdomen decreases.

Bloated upper abdomen with nausea

A bloated stomach with nausea indicates an acute reaction of the gastrointestinal mucosa. This can be caused by food intolerance, intestinal infections or inflammation of the intestine caused by other triggers. An overproduction of hydrochloric acid in the stomach can also cause the symptoms. A similar development mechanism follows all causes. The irritation and inflammation of the intestinal mucous membrane cells can cause nausea, discomfort and pain. Furthermore, the normal chemical digestion processes are disturbed, which leads to increased reactions with gas formation.

Bloated upper abdomen with shortness of breath

In the case of pronounced swelling of the upper abdomen, breathing may be impaired, as the abdomen presses on the lungs from below and impairs their development. A food allergy can also lead to shortness of breath and abdominal discomfort. However, the causes of the two symptoms can also be different. If the shortness of breath is very great or continues to increase, a doctor must be consulted immediately.

Bloated upper abdomen with back pain

Many people with a bloated upper abdomen also suffer from back pain. The accumulation of air in the intestines, which is usually present, can trigger pressure on the spine from the inside and thus cause pain. If the flatulence in the upper abdomen decreases, the pain usually also disappears. If the back pain persists, another cause is more likely. Most of the time, it is a question of improper or overloading of the back.


How long the upper abdomen has been inflated cannot be said in general terms. If it is possible to let air out through supportive measures such as exercise, the bloated stomach often recedes soon. In some cases, however, the upper abdomen is also over many Hours or even several Days distended. This is especially true if food that continues to bloat or carbonated drinks is consumed. Even with constipation, the abdomen often remains bloated. If there is no improvement even after several days, a doctor should be consulted.


To diagnose the cause of a distended upper abdomen, a medical consultation is crucial. Questions about the trigger, duration and accompanying symptoms of the symptom provide the doctor with important information. The physical exam is also important for making a diagnosis. If the abdomen is swollen during the visit to the doctor, the examination can tell, for example, whether the cause of the swelling is air in the intestine or water retention.
If necessary, an ultrasound examination can also provide further information. If the doctor suspects the interview and examination, he can initiate more specific investigations. For example, if a food intolerance is suspected, a referral to a specialist in gastric and intestinal diseases can be made (Gastroenterologist). This can, for example, investigate the suspicion with special breath or blood tests.

Read more on the topic: Ultrasound of the abdomen


A heating pad can relieve pain in the stomach.

If the upper abdomen is distended, treatment is based on the trigger. Since it is mostly an accumulation of air, there are various options that can be used to seek relief. So can for example physical activity through a walk or Climb stairs the escape of air can be promoted. It also helps many people themselves warmth for example in the form of a Heating pad to lay on his stomach.
Adequate hydration, preferably through one Herbal tea (for example fennel, anise or caraway) is also recommended. On the other hand, you should avoid carbonated or alcoholic beverages, as these will only puff you up. Furthermore, a Reflexology by stimulating the intestinal activity in a distended upper abdomen to an improvement.
If certain Food were identified as triggers, these should be avoided in the future or at least consumed in smaller quantities. In the case of a constantly or regularly inflated upper abdomen without an identifiable cause, the doctor should be consulted for clarification.

These home remedies can help

The most important in-house measures for a bloated stomach are diet. The focus should be on avoiding food that is difficult to digest and food that produces gas. These include, for example, carbonated drinks, legumes and foods containing lactose. Instead, high fiber foods and digestive foods such as flaxseed should be eaten. Bitter herbs can also promote digestion and prevent bloating. To support you, you should always drink enough still water and eat a healthy, conscious diet. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly can also aid digestion.

Read more on the topic: Home remedies for a bloated stomach