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Bloating as Sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Other Conditions

Bloating as Sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Other Conditions

How do you differentiate bloating as sign of inflammatory bowel disease, or bloating as caused by another condition? Read on to learn more about bloating and what other conditions can potentially trigger this symptom.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: What Are the Different Types?

Bloating a Sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

One of the most common signs of inflammatory bowel disease is bloating. However, there are also a number of digestive concerns that can trigger bloating.

So how can you determine if you have inflammatory bowel disease or not? Here are the clues you need to watch out for:

If it happens right after eating carbohydrates

For people with inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, certain types of foods can trigger bloating. In particular, food that contains complex carbohydrates.

This happens because the body has a hard time digesting these foods. The bacteria in the stomach digests the carbohydrates and releases gas as a byproduct, which in turn can cause bloating.

In addition, food with certain sugars, such as sorbitol and fructose can cause bloating.

If it happens after eating milk or milk-based products

In some cases, it’s not complex carbohydrates that trigger bloating in people with IBD, but lactose. This is common in people who are lactose intolerant.

Bloating occurs because bacteria in the stomach digests the lactose and produces gas.

When it’s accompanied by a flare-up

It’s also possible for people with IBD to experience a flare-up alongside bloating. This means that they can also experience other symptoms of IBD such as stomach cramps, pains, constipation, or diarrhea.

If it happens after a meal

If you notice that eating regular-sized or larger meals tends to trigger bloating, it might be a good idea to eat smaller, but more frequent meals to prevent bloating. If this solves your bloating problem, then there’s a possibility that it might actually be caused by IBD.

inflammatory bowel disease prevention

Other conditions that cause bloating

Aside from IBD, other conditions can also cause bloating. If you’re experiencing bloating, but don’t have IBD, then one of these might be the culprit.


Constipation is a common cause of bloating. It happens because you’re not passing stool as often, so the bacteria in your stool has time to digest and ferment the food you ate. As a result, gas can build up in your digestive tract and make you gassy.

Hormonal changes

Women in particular tend to experience bloating whenever they’re close to their period. This has to do with the hormonal changes that their body goes through during this time.

Pregnant women are also prone to experiencing bloating. This has something to do with the hormone progesterone, which slows down their digestion. Because of the slower digestion, bacteria has more time to digest the food, which produces gas and causes bloating.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Some people might confuse IBD with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, but these conditions are different. One thing they do have in common is that they can both cause bloating.

Irritable bowel syndrome can be caused by anxiety or stress, bacterial infections, as well as certain types of food.

What happens in people with IBS is that they experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, and abdominal pain. If you’re not sure if you have IBS or IBD, consult your doctor.


Lastly, bloating plus other symptoms can be a possible sign of various types of cancer. It can possible be a sign of colon, ovarian, stomach, and pancreatic cancer. But this is an extremely rare occurrence.

For a proper assessment and diagnosis, consult your doctor.

Learn more about IBD here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


5 Common Causes of Bloating and How to Find Relief | Temple Health, https://www.templehealth.org/about/blog/5-bloating-causes-relieve-discomfort-at-home, Accessed January 8, 2021

What’s causing that belly bloat? – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/whats-causing-that-belly-bloat, Accessed January 8, 2021

Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips | Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/bloating-causes-and-prevention-tips, Accessed January 8, 2021

Bloating – causes, treatment and prevention | healthdirect, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/bloating, Accessed January 8, 2021

9 reasons why you feel bloated all the time – Vital Record, https://vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/9-reasons-why-you-feel-bloated-all-the-time/, Accessed January 8, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 02
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.