We’ve all experienced the occasional bloated stomach, perhaps after a massive meal or big night out.
A recent YouGov survey found a third (31%) of people would change their diet if they were experiencing bloating to cut out triggering foods such as gluten or dairy.
In contrast, 35% would add certain foods to help reduce their bloating, such as certain teas or probiotics.
But in the same survey, only 34% of the people said they would make an appointment to see their GP if they were experiencing bloating – meaning almost two thirds of people remain nonchalant when it comes to the potential danger bloating may be signalling, which could include some serious health conditions and even cancer.
Here are four accompanying symptoms to your bloating you should never ignore.
Bloating that doesn’t go away
Bloating that doesn’t subside could indicate serious health troubles.
These include ascites, pancreatic insufficiency, inflammation of the stomach or certain cancers.
“If bloating is persistent and does not vary with changing eating habits or bowel movements, it is a good idea to seek medical care,” said Dr Alex Hewlett,
“For bloating to be potentially worrisome, it generally needs to have lasted for more than two weeks in a month,” added Dr Monique Swain, obstetrician and gynaecologist.
Appetite changes are key early signs of a number of different cancers.
These include breast, pancreatic, colon or stomach cancer.
Stomach issues from bloating that in turn affect how you eat comes down to the cancer causing large masses that take up a lot of space in the stomach. This impacts on appetite, causing a person to feel full very quickly or not wanting to eat at all.
Other gastrointestinal symptoms may include nausea or vomiting.
Experiencing persistent bloating and feeling full is one of the most common early signs of ovarian cancer.
If the bloating is accompanied by abdominal distension – visible swelling in your stomach – it could be a major red flag.
Other early warning symptoms include feeling full quickly after starting to eat, nausea and indigestion.
Factors which can increase a person’s risk of ovarian cancer includes being over 50 or having a family history of ovarian or breast cancer.
When bloating is accompanied by fatigue, it may be a sign of certain conditions.
Two of the main and most worrying conditions are congestive heart failure or liver disease.
“Once you get bloating and fluid retention, it may mean the disease process affecting your liver or heart is advanced,” warned Dr Hewlett.
Congestive heart failure and bloating are often linked.
“Swelling or pain in the stomach area can occur due to fluid build-up in the body, which is a sign of worsening heart failure,” says Heartfailurematters.org
The health site continued: “The discomfort is due to fluid retention and congestion in the liver and gut.”
According to the American Heart Association other symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath or heart palpitations.
Liver disease is also linked to fluid build-up and bloating.
“Normally, this is a slow, insidious process where you just start to feel it in the lower belly,” Dr Hewlett added.
“As it progresses, your belly becomes more and more distended with fluid.”
Other signs of liver disease include jaundice, fatigue or bruising easily.
If you are experiencing any of these accompanying signs alongside your bloating it is imperative to speak to your healthcare professional.