For the diagnosis of the cause of a distended upper abdomen, the medical consultation is initially decisive. Questions about the trigger, duration and accompanying symptoms give the doctor important information. The physical examination is also important for finding a diagnosis.
If the abdomen is swollen during the visit to the doctor, the doctor can use the examination to determine, for example, whether the cause of the swelling is air in the intestine or water retention. If necessary, an ultrasound examination can also provide further information. If the doctor suspects that this is the case, he or she can initiate more specific examinations.
For example, if food intolerance is suspected, a referral to a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases (gastroenterologist) can be made. The gastroenterologist can follow up the suspicion, for example, with special breathing or blood tests. In the case of a distended upper abdomen, the treatment depends on the cause.
Since it is usually an accumulation of air, there are various ways in which relief can be sought. For example, physical activity such as walking or climbing stairs can promote the escape of air. Many people also find it helpful to put heat on their stomachs, for example in the form of a heating pad.
A sufficient fluid intake, preferably through a herbal tea (for example fennel, aniseed or caraway) is also recommended. On the other hand, you should avoid carbonated or alcoholic drinks, as they only make you bloated. Furthermore, a foot reflex zone massage can lead to an improvement by stimulating the intestinal activity in case of an inflated upper abdomen.
If certain foods have been identified as triggers, they should be avoided in future or at least consumed in smaller quantities. If the upper abdomen is constantly or regularly inflated without any recognisable cause, the family doctor should be consulted for clarification. The most important in-house measures in the case of an inflated abdomen are nutritional.
The main focus should be on avoiding foods that are difficult to digest and gas-producing foods. These include, for example, carbonated drinks, pulses and foods containing lactose. Instead, fibre-rich food and digestive foods such as linseed should be eaten.
Bitter herbs can also aid digestion and prevent bloating. As a support, you should always make sure that you drink a sufficient amount of still water and eat a healthy, conscious diet. Slow eating and thorough chewing can also support digestion.