Why You Might Feel Short Of Breath When Bloated

Whether caused by gas, constipation, gut sensitivity, or an alternate health condition, bloating is characterized by a sensation of fullness or tightness in the stomach, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. In addition to feelings of gastrointestinal discomfort, Healthline notes that when bloated, the abdomen may also appear larger in size or may feel physically hard. However, some symptoms of bloating may not be as widely known, such as shortness of breath. What is it about bloating that affects our ability to breathe?

Sometimes, bloating and shortness of breath can occur in tandem as a result of certain health conditions. Such conditions can include gallstones, a hernia, cystic fibrosis, obesity, peripheral neuropathy, menstruation, as well as anxiety or panic disorder, amongst others. However, many cases of bloating that are accompanied by shortness of breath have to do with the diaphragm. The muscle moves up and down in congruence with our inhaling and exhaling, explains Medical News Today. But when we're bloated, the abdomen can place pressure on the diaphragm, limiting its ability to move as we breathe, thereby leading to shortness of breath.

When bloating and shortness of breath warrants a visit to the doctor

Pressure on the diaphragm can come from a number of different places as it relates to bloating and shortness of breath. For example, Medical News Today reports that bloating that stems from overeating can cause the abdomen to press up against the diaphragm. Similarly, a buildup of gas after eating certain food items, such as beans or carbonated drinks, can also place added pressure on the diaphragm. Bloating is also not uncommon during pregnancy and may be accompanied by shortness of breath as the fetus grows and progressively presses up against the diaphragm.

At the advice of Medical News Today, consult with your physician if your bloating and shortness of breath persists beyond a day. Be sure to seek emergency assistance if you experience additional symptoms, such as vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours, severe stomach pain, loss of bowel or bladder control, or the presence of dark, bloody stool. However, for those who deal with the occasional bout of bloating, a board-certified physician in internal medicine, gastroenterology, and obesity medicine in Massachusetts, Dr. Supriya Rao, tells POPSUGAR that regular physical activity, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, or the use of a light laxative or peppermint oil may help alleviate the discomfort.