Swollen belly; Swelling in the abdomen; Abdominal distention; Distended abdomen
A swollen abdomen is when your belly area is bigger than usual.
Abdominal swelling, or distention, is more often caused by overeating than by a serious illness. This problem also can be caused by:
A swollen abdomen that is caused by eating a heavy meal will go away when you digest the food. Eating smaller amounts will help prevent swelling.
For a swollen abdomen caused by swallowing air:
For a swollen abdomen caused by malabsorption, try changing your diet and limiting milk. Talk to your health care provider.
For irritable bowel syndrome:
For a swollen abdomen due to other causes, follow the treatment prescribed by your provider.
Contact your provider if:
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history, such as when the problem began and when it occurs.
The provider will also ask about other symptoms you may be having, such as:
Tests that may be done include:
Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Abdomen. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 18.
Landmann A, Bonds M, Postier R. Acute abdomen. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 21st ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2022:chap 46.
McQuaid KR. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 123.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 10/20/2022
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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