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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

  • Causes
  • Home Care
    • A swollen abdomen that is caused by eating a heavy meal will go away when you digest the food. Eating smaller amounts 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 health care provider.

      For irritable bowel syndrome:

      • Decrease emotional stress.
      • Increase dietary fiber.
      • Talk to your health care provider.

      For a swollen abdomen due to other causes, follow the treatment prescribed by your health care provider.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • 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 to 8 hours.
  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit
  • References
    • Mcquaid K. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 134.

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