Meteorism describes a disease that is often not immediately recognized and therefore not treated. In addition, bloating, a disease of the digestive system, is uncomfortable for many sufferers. Stomach pain, a feeling of fullness even after eating a small amount of food, and a stomach that seems as swollen as a medicine ball are the symptoms of meteorism.
What is meteorism?
The term meteorism refers to an abnormal accumulation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Everyone has air that is expelled through a burp or through the anus. This happens on average up to 15 times a day. The sometimes unpleasant smell of the intestinal gases comes from the bacteria in the large intestine. These produce sulphurous gases. These symptoms occur more frequently in meteorism. The abdomen is bulging and distended. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Meteorism.
Many medical professionals suspect that flabby abdominal muscles are one of the main reasons for meteorism. If you eat too many fatty foods and don’t exercise enough, the fat and thus the gases are stored in the soft abdominal area. They get stuck here and don’t go their natural way. This causes the stomach to become even more bloated and grow.
The situation is similar with a diet rich in fibre, cellulose and fat. The body finds it difficult to process the gas accumulations. In healthy people, flatulence goes away normally; in people affected by meteorism, it builds up inside the intestines. Cabbage, lettuce and legumes, for example, are known for their bloating effects.
Lactose, fructose and gluten can also trigger gas accumulation. Gulping down food, fizzy soft drinks, and artificial sugar substitutes can also cause bloating. Health conditions that can lead to meteorism include:
- Disturbances regarding the further transport of the intestinal contents: Putrefactive bacteria can collect in the areas where the stool remains for a long time.
- Disorders in blood circulation (digestive organs)
- liver damage
- myocardial insufficiency
- Acute and strong meteorism can also result from an intestinal obstruction. This requires immediate surgical or intensive care treatment (depending on the cause).
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Meteorism causes the abdomen to swell spherically. It usually feels hard and is very sensitive to pressure. The bloated stomach causes an uncomfortable and nagging feeling, which is aggravated when sitting or wearing tight clothing.
In addition, side effects such as a feeling of tension and fullness, stool irregularities, abdominal pain, intestinal noises, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea are possible. Because many of those affected can only concentrate on the bloated stomach, physical and mental well-being and general performance are significantly restricted.
The gases are often not released due to a feeling of shame, which increases the bloated stomach, since the feeling of tension usually only subsides after the wind and bowel movements have passed.
Diagnosis & disease progression
Those affected often only see a doctor when the bloating has existed for many days and does not go away on its own. The upper and lower abdomen are usually hard, swollen and there is also severe pain due to the bloated stomach area. A bloated stomach is usually easy for a doctor to diagnose, so that targeted treatment can be initiated quickly.
In the case of meteorism, this depends on the corresponding cause. If meteorism occurs in combination with other symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, it is important to see a doctor. This can identify serious diseases such as gastritis, stomach cancer, hepatitis or pancreatitis or, in the best case, rule them out.
Due to meteroism, those affected suffer from severe abdominal and stomach problems. This usually leads to diarrhea and a very bloated stomach. Many of those affected therefore also suffer from inferiority complexes or reduced self-esteem due to the bloated stomach.
Constipation and diarrhea also occur. The stomach itself is often tense and there is nausea or disturbing noises in the intestine. The person affected often has irregular bowel movements, which can lead to severe limitations and problems in everyday life. In general, the patient’s quality of life decreases significantly as a result of the disease.
Complications usually arise when meteroism does not go away on its own and is not treated. This increases the risk of serious illnesses, which in the worst case can lead to the death of the patient. In many cases, the symptoms of meteorism can be treated with simple means, with no particular complications. In some cases, however, drugs or surgical interventions are necessary. If treatment of meteorism is started early, the patient’s life expectancy is usually not reduced.
Treatment & Therapy
- diet change
In the case of meteorism, dairy products should first be avoided. An exception is yoghurt. As an alternative, it is advisable to consume lactose-free milk products. It is also advisable to avoid fruit and corresponding juices. Legumes contain indigestible carbohydrates, so these should also be avoided. Cooked vegetables are better than raw food, and mixed bread should be chosen instead of wholemeal bread.
Carbonated drinks should be replaced with herbal teas with a stomach-soothing effect, such as fennel tea. There are also digestive products, such as caraway and sauerkraut. The purpose of the change is to find out whether diet is the cause of meteorism.
- abs workout
Sports and targeted abdominal muscle training help to counteract meteorism. Strong abdominal muscles support bowel movements. This prevents the stool from staying longer and the resulting gas formation. An electric blanket or hot water bottle placed on the stomach or a warm bath often bring relief.
There are several drugs that help eliminate meteorism. Herbal remedies that contain, for example, caraway, peppermint, fennel, aniseed and lemon balm and have an antispasmodic effect. Chemical agents that lead to relaxation and ensure that the intestinal contents are better transported.
Also, combination supplements that contain enzymes for faster digestion and food absorption. Lactase tablets for meteorism as a result of lactose intolerance, herbal combination preparations and charcoal preparations can also help. As an alternative, there are laxative suppositories to stimulate the bowel movement and thus to achieve a discharge of the intestinal gases.
Outlook & Forecast
Meteorism has a favorable prognosis. In addition to numerous self-help measures, drug treatment is initiated. This gradually leads to a regression of the existing symptoms and ultimately to a recovery. The challenge, however, is the diagnosis. The disease often goes unnoticed for a long time. In addition, the clinical picture often indicates the presence of another disease, so that confusion occurs in a large number of cases. If a correct diagnosis is made, the person concerned can make a significant contribution to alleviating the symptoms through measures such as muscle training and a change in diet.
For many patients, these measures are sufficient to achieve freedom from symptoms. A supply of medication is made available to support the healing process. The combination of self-help measures with medical care helps the organism to perform better.
Without the changes or the use of a treatment, the health irregularities usually remain for a longer period of time. The quality of life is reduced and there are various kinds of limitations in everyday life. In addition to physical disorders, states of mental stress usually develop over time. If the course of the disease is unfavorable and without a correct diagnosis, psychological sequelae often occur.
Anyone who is prone to meteorism should season food with caraway, fennel, aniseed and sauté vegetables. Food should contain few hot spices. Avoid gas-producing vegetables such as onions, garlic, cabbage, legumes, and radishes.
Food that is too fatty, coarsely ground whole grain products, coffee, chocolate and ice-cold drinks containing carbon dioxide are also unsuitable. It is important to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Exercise after eating helps the gases escape.
Medical follow-up aims to prevent the recurrence of a disease and to provide everyday support to avoid complications. In the case of flatulence, however, this is often not necessary, although meteorism requires certain measures. This includes avoiding certain meals and foods.
If the bloating recurs; close follow-up checks are required. Therapy then aims to identify and eliminate the causes of flatulence. If the trigger can be eliminated, the associated reactions disappear. A drug change and treatment promise success in most cases.
The doctor agrees on an individual rhythm with his patient in order to check the effectiveness of the therapy. Aftercare, on the other hand, is more complex if stress or anxiety causes the flatulence. Then psychotherapy is usually advisable, in which relaxation techniques are learned. The doctor prescribes appropriate prescriptions until the final success.
You can do that yourself
Keeping a food diary can help track down meteorism triggers. If flatulence occurs after eating strongly gas-forming foods such as cabbage or legumes, these should be avoided as far as possible – if you do not want to do without them, flatulent vegetables should be boiled long enough and some caraway or fennel seeds added. If there is an intolerance to milk sugar (lactose intolerance) or fruit sugar (fructose intolerance), switching to lactose-free milk products or largely avoiding fruit and sugar substitutes can significantly alleviate the symptoms.
Hasty eating, on the other hand, often intensifies the symptoms, and meals should always be taken in peace and without hectic. If flatulence develops despite preventive measures, it can in many cases be treated well with home remedies. A gentle abdominal massage in a clockwise direction around the navel promotes the passage of intestinal gases, placing a hot -water bottle or a cherry stone pillow on top has an additional antispasmodic effect. A mixture of caraway seeds, peppermint leaves, chamomile blossoms and fennel seeds, of which two to three cups are drunk daily, has proven itself as a tea preparation. Cloves, anise and gingeralso counteract flatulence, they can be added to food as a spice or drunk as an infusion for acute symptoms.
In the long term, intestinal cleansing with probiotic yoghurt or sauerkraut juice can be helpful. If symptoms persist despite self-treatment, a doctor should be consulted.