Bloating After Meals

What Causes Bloating After Meals?

Bloating after meals can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose bloating after meals, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "bloating after meals" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Food Allergies
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Increased Intestinal Permeability
  • Immune System Imbalance
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Stomach Cancer

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
sensitivity to bright light
very tender muscles
onion intolerance
elevated lymphocyte count
moderate epigastric pain
vegetarian diet
major fatigue for 3-12 months
severe lactose intolerance
high refined sugar consumption
adult acne
craving and eating wheat
Crohn's disease in remission
... and more than 160 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of bloating after meals:
Cause Probability Status
Increased Intestinal Permeability 92% Confirm
Lactose Intolerance 23% Unlikely
Crohn's Disease 17% Unlikely
Immune System Imbalance 2% Ruled out
Irritable Bowel Syndrome 1% Ruled out
Adrenal Fatigue 1% Ruled out
Stomach Cancer 1% Ruled out
Food Allergies 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate occasional problems caused by eating, regular problems caused by eating or frequent problems caused by eating, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Does your belly feel full and tight ("bloated") after eating a normal-sized meal?
Possible responses:
→ No / rarely / only if I eat too much / don't know
→ Bloating is (also) present before meals
→ Occasionally - several times a year
→ Regularly - at least once a month
→ Frequently - after most or all meals
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of meal-related bloating, meal-related bloating or frequent meal-related bloating, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Bloating can occur at any time for IBS sufferers but especially after or during a meal as the digestive system will be under an increased workload.  Bloating is extremely common in IBS sufferers, with one study of 337 IBS patients finding that 83% experienced bloating.  Therefore, the absence of meal-related bloating would tend to rule out IBS, although not completely.

Lactose Intolerance

"An estimated 50 million Americans experience intestinal discomfort after consuming dairy products.  Symptoms include bloating, stomach pain, cramps, gas, or diarrhea." [Postgraduate Medicine 1994;95(1)]

Ovarian Cancer

Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas, indigestion, nausea, or changes in bowel movements, are sometimes early warning signs.

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