Why Do I Feel Bloated When I Haven’t Eaten?

Bloating is the swollen feeling you get after you have eaten. This is because of excess gas production and disturbances of the muscles in the digestive system. The feeling is as if you are “full”.

People often find this sensation after 3 hours of having a meal. It is possible to feel bloated even when you haven’t eaten. Occasionally, even with little food in your stomach, you can perceive the over-eating. The stomach every so often can be expanded forward due to excessive gas collection. All in all, it makes you wonder Why do I feel bloated when I haven’t eaten?

Causes of Bloating

The most common cause of bloating is when the food remains undigested and in the digestive tract. As a result, with the air and the water we drink, gas produces and makes our belly swollen.

This feeling can remain for way too many hours even after you have not eaten. You might feel stuffed or even suffocated at times.

You can tell you are bloated when your stomach feels tight and full. The uncomfortable and uneasy feeling will not go away easily. Also, visually your stomach may look a little bigger due to the excess gas production.

You may discharge gas in the form of burps or flatus at times.

Learn How to Erase Acid Reflux & Improve Your Digestion

Regular Foods and Bloating

Regular consumption of foods that are prone to irritating your gut can cause bloating. The digestive tract is very sensitive and not the same for everyone. It is to be kept in mind that what is good for you can not be good enough for others. Your tolerance level, allergies may not be the same as others.

But in general certain foods are considered to inflame bloating. Like

  • Milk
  • Pizza
  • Canned soup
  • Apples and leads
  • Alcohol
  • Corn
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Seltzer
  • Diet soda
  • Raw spinach
  • Protein bars
  • Onions
  • Dried fruits
  • Beans and lentils
  • Button mushrooms
  • Sweeteners
  • Milk alternatives etc.

A few behavioral patterns also initiate bloating. Some of them are:

  • Stressing
  • Drinking less amount of water
  • Not chewing food properly
  • Drinking through a straw
  • Chewing or sucking candies
  • Keeping food in mouth for a long time
  • Overeating
  • Increase fiber intake in a short period of time

Symptoms of Bloating

Some symptoms of bloating are stated below:

  • Tightness of stomach
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Discomfort in movement
  • May or may not have other associated complications like diarrhea, constipation, infection, etc.
  • Frequent discharge of gases
  • Foul-smelling breath etc.

Bloating and Other Diseases

Constantly hungry and yet a bloated and tired feeling is a sign that you are having digestive problems. Thyroid disorders are a very common suspect for having these kinds of problems. The thyroid gland is located at the front area of your neck; above your collarbone. It regulates the body's major functions that include your mood, appetite, and rate of metabolism.

Conditions in your thyroid can escalate or delay the normal rate of metabolism. It can make you lethargic, bloated, or even hungry at times. Alarming symptoms like enlargement of the thyroid gland, pain in the neck, rapid mood swings, irregular heartbeat, loss or excessive appetite are concerning.

Associated diseases like cardiac, renal, or hepatic are may show some initial signs of bloating. Diabetic patients at times have compromised digestive tract and may have issues related to bloating. It becomes important to control these conditions so that you are not feeling bloated regularly.

Bloating is common in:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Irritable Bowel syndrome
  • Gluten intolerance and Celiac diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Intestinal obstruction

Upper Abdominal Bloating

Abdominal bloating usually remains in the intestines. But at times, when the gas spreads, it can reach the upper digestive tract and cause upper abdominal bloating.

Possible causes of abdominal bloating and abdominal pain Numerous causes for upper abdominal bloating are:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Dyspepsia
  • Constipation
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Viral gastroenteritis
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Celiac disease or gluten intolerance
  • H. Pylori infection
  • Colic and crying
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diverticulitis
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Cholecystitis
  • Endometriosis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Hookworm infection
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Peritonitis
  • Amoebiasis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Symptoms of upper abdominal bloating

  • Inability to have bowel movements
  • Stool with blood
  • Tightness of upper abdomen
  • Recurrent vomiting
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain in neck, chest, and shoulders

Ways to get rid of upper abdominal bloating

  • Avoid fatty food
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Increase water intake
  • Eat potassium-rich foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid carbonated drinks
  • Eat slowly

Bloating can make you feel sick and tired. It limits your active participation in various activities as the uneasy feeling tends to grow with time. This might lead to nausea, vomiting, distastefulness to specific foods, etc.

Empty Stomach vs Full Stomach

'Hunger punch' is the medical term for a growling stomach. The stomach produces gas caused by elevated amounts of acid. There is a growling and gnawing feeling in the stomach and overall attributes to an uncomfortable feeling. Stomach gases can also transpire when you are hungry.

On the other hand, loss of appetite can be the cause of vital health issues. If you are feeling bloated and still have no appetite for weeks, there can be significant chances of having some of the following problems:

  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Gall stones
  • Hepatitis
  • Dementia
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure
  • Drug reaction- cocaine, heroin, codeine, antibiotics
  • Hypothyroidism etc.

Are you pregnant?

If you are wondering why you look so bloated, whether or not you look pregnant, check with your menstrual cycle dates. Sometimes when you miss your periods, the progesterone level increases for preparing the uterus. Progesterone slows down digestion and can cause abdominal bloating.

pregnant Bloating

It is always safer to get tested in this case.

Tackling Bloating

Right after you wake up, it is important to keep track of what you are eating. Drinking a glass of water will flush down the toxins in your stomach and start regulating the hormones. The bowel movements will be favored for this habit.

It is extremely vital to have a clear stomach in the morning to avoid the bloated feeling all through the day. Cutting of artificial sweeteners, milk alternatives, oily and greasy foods in the morning can help you reduce bloating. Breakfast foods like granola, bread, milk, cheese can cause bloating. So it is better to keep it off the breakfast menu.

At night, it is better not to go to sleep right after you have eaten. Give the food at least thirty minutes to an hour to well digested well in the gut. Therefore, the bloating might go away.

Foods like green tea, chamomile tea can call down your internal system and boost the antioxidants to give you extra energy.

Habit of Healthy Eating

Eating habit is an essential factor in our day to day life. Oily, greasy, spicy foods will disturb the usual mobility of the gastrointestinal tract. Bloating, nausea and vomiting are some mere symptoms but the underlying cause may be something even more alarming. Consumption of foods that will clear these substances may be helpful.

The sensation of bloating may make your stomach feel full even if you didn't eat anything. This can happen in taking excess water or having foods that can trigger your digestive issues.

For example, if you have ulceration problems, bloating is pretty common. Hypersensitivity to certain food can also instigate your bloating as they are too spicy or acidic for you. As a result, your gastrointestinal tract can grow intolerances and result in bloating, food poisoning, loose motion, etc.

Sometimes when you feel bloated, it is common not to feel like eating anything. But at times when you are bloated for a long time and you are also hungry, some anti-bloating food will help you to reduce your bloating. Maximum of these are high on potassium content. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  • Celery and fennel
  • Asparagus
  • Citrus fruits, melons, cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Green tea
  • Kimchi, Kafir, Sauerkraut
  • Kiwi
  • Peppermint and chamomile tea
  • Red pepper
  • Spinach
  • Sprouted grains
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Turmeric
  • Yogurt
  • Pineapple

Parting Words

Underlying conditions can be possible reasons why the feeling of bloating prevails. Seek medical help if you feel the matter is getting out of hand rather than wondering “Why do I feel bloated when I haven’t eaten?”. Reduce your food intake that can cause digestive tract irritation. Remember that bloating does not only happen with a full stomach. Even without eating something you may feel bloated.

Lastly, never forget "The happier your tummy is, the happiest you can be!"

FAQs

1) Can being inactive cause bloating?

Inactivity, hot weather, and period cause water retention. For this purpose, the digestive system regresses and can cause bloating. Even with empty stomachs, it is possible to feel bloated.

Keeping the human body active is essential in order to make your physiological processes out and running.

2) Why do I feel bloated even when I'm eating healthy?

Bloating does not necessarily mean you have a bad diet. Hidden health conditions are capable to lead you to bloat. Unwanted gut bacteria outgrowth is a good reason for a protruded belly. So even if you have a healthy diet, you can feel bloated.

3) What relieves bloating instantly?

Wanting to get rid of bloating at this very moment? Try the following remedies

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Peppermint capsules
  • Gas relief capsules
  • Abdominal massage
  • Warm bath
  • Green tea

Thanks for Reading!

Nuha Adila

I am a health enthusiast who finds fitness as a top priority in life. I like to keep a track of what I eat despite my profound attachment to any spicy food. Being a medical student, looking out for healthier food and lifestyle options has become a habit. And music inspires me while I write.

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