Bloating is a common complaint. This is an uncomfortable feeling of having an over-full tummy. This may be caused by excessive eating to the point where we feel ‘stuffed’. Most of us know that feeling from festive occasions and special events. This usually eases off after a while.

There are other causes including excess wind, food intolerance, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Your pharmacist can advise you on this and may suggest a remedy. In more serious cases, a doctor’s advice should be sought.

Certain foods tend to cause wind and bloating. These include vegetables like onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower and beans. Fizzy drinks may also cause problems.

Food intolerance can lead to bloating as food gases get trapped or the bowel doesn’t empty properly as a reaction to the food.

Constipation can be prevented by drinking plenty of fluid, eating a diet rich in fibre and making sure to take exercise regularly.

People suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome frequently complain of bloating because of the difficulties that they experience in passing food through the bowel. There are several approaches to self-management and your pharmacist or GP can advise about this.

Bloating can be associated with flatulence. People pass wind several times a day, but when it’s excessive and loud, it can cause embarrassment. Consuming a balanced diet can alleviate the problem and that includes aiming for your ‘five-a-day’ in fruit and veg.

Flatulence is caused when certain carbohydrates are broken down in the body and in the process gas is produced. Unabsorbable carbohydrates are the main culprit. These include several vegetables such as those mentioned in relation to bloating plus foods like raisins, pulses and apples. Artificial sweetners can cause a problem.

Conditions and illnesses that may cause flatulence include constiptation, IBS, lactose intolerance, gastroenteritis and coeliac disease.