Everyone feels bloated from time to time. Whether it’s from eating too much, consuming the wrong types of food, hormonal issues or having a condition that affects the digestive system, bloating is a common occurrence, particularly in the U.S.
As it turns out, however, it appears some people are more susceptible to feeling bloated than others, according to new research published in November 2022. Namely, according to the study, women are more than twice as likely to report feeling bloated than men — as are people with comorbidities and concomitant gastrointestinal symptoms.
Study: Bloating in Women, Men
This study, “Abdominal Bloating in the United States: Results of a Survey of 88,795 Americans Examining Prevalence and Healthcare Seeking,” was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology with the aim “to examine the prevalence of bloating and assess related health care seeking using survey data from a nationally representative sample of nearly 89,000 Americans.”
In order to determine this information, study participants filled out the National Gastrointestinal (GI) Survey II, which was used to measure GI symptoms, including bloating. Specifically, the researchers examined the prevalence of bloat in the past week.
In total, 88,795 people completed the survey, with nearly 14 percent (12,324) reporting that they felt bloated in the past seven days. The results showed that women are more likely to report bloat than men. They also revealed that those with comorbidities — such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, chronic constipation and more — and other GI symptoms, such as abdominal pain and excessive gas, were more likely to feel bloated.
“These factors were also associated with more severe bloating,” the authors reported.
In addition, “Among those who reported recent bloating, 58.5% never sought care for bloating—29% of whom were self-managing symptoms or were uncomfortable discussing symptoms with their providers,” according to the research.
The study authors ultimately concluded:
Bloating is common in the community because nearly 1 in 7 Americans have experienced this symptom in the past week. Women and those with certain comorbidities and concomitant GI symptoms are more likely to experience bloating and have more severe symptoms. Nearly one third of sufferers who have not sought care are managing symptoms on their own or are uncomfortable discussing it with their providers, emphasizing that efforts should be made to proactively inquire about bloating.
“Other studies have also found that women report more bloating than men, and researchers have proposed various hypotheses for why this may be occurring,” said Janice Oh, MD, a resident physician within the Division of General Internal Medicine at Cedars-Sinai and first author of the study. “These include hormonal, metabolic, psychosocial, lifestyle and dietary differences between men and women.”
How to Combat Bloating
While it’s clear that having a bloated stomach is a fairly common occurrence, there are several natural ways to combat bloat and relieve GI symptoms. Here are some tips for soothing an uneasy, bloated stomach:
- Add probiotics to your routine.
- Eat more fiber.
- Consume hydrating vegetables and fruit.
- Take advantage of digestion-friendly herbs, spices and teas, including ginger, fennel, aloe vera and dandelion, among others.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid foods that cause bloat, such as sugar and sweetened snacks, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, carbonated drinks, dairy, refined grains, legumes, and other foods that trigger symptoms for you.
- Relieve stress.