Bloating. Ugh. Your stomach is distended with a food baby that rivals a real pregnancy and yet your doctor assumes you there is nothing to be worried about. Sure, you say, you try living like this every day. If you suffer from bloating, read on to find out what your doctor probably hasn’t told you about it.

1. Bloating is a common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects millions of men and women each day. In fact, IBS is the most common digestive disorder in the world. Bloating, cramping, gut pain, constipation, diarrhoea (or both) causes people to miss work each day and feel downright miserable.

2. IBS isn’t a condition that can be diagnosed with a test. Your symptoms might be evaluated using a questionnaire designed to identify symptoms of IBS, but it’s essentially a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’, which means that the doctor has ruled out other conditions, and has no other explanation for your symptoms, except IBS.

3. Fibre might make your bloating worse. You’ve probably been told you should eat more fibre for good health and to prevent constipation, and this is usually true. Unless you have bloating. Fibre can actually make bloating better or worse, depending on the cause of your bloating. Some fibrous foods can make bloating much worse, very quickly after you eat. If you’re constipated, though, and this is causing your bloating, eating fibre may help.

4. Smoking can make bloating worse. This is because smokers tend to ‘eat’ air more than non-smokers, which builds up in your gut. The same thing can happen when you eat too fast. So, slow down and quit!

5. Your gut bacteria can move to a different place, and then they blow up your belly. We all have friendly bacteria that lives in our gut and helps digest your food. This bacteria should live mostly in your large intestine, but in some people, they get restless and travel back to your small intestine. When these bacteria take up residence here, they cause bloating like it’s nobody’s business! This condition is called SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It’s the underlying cause for many cases of bloating and IBS.

6. Speaking of your gut bacteria, did you know there are both friendly and not-so-friendly bacteria that live in your gut? If the friendly ones start to get outnumbered by the not-so-friendly ones, you could definitely get bloating.

7. Even more unfriendly are the parasites that can move in to your gut and live off you! Horrible thought, right? If you’ve travelled overseas recently and your gut hasn’t been quite right since, this could be your problem. Even if you haven’t travelled, you can pick up a parasite that can cause all sorts of issues with your gut. You’ll want to get tested and eradicate those little pests quick smart.

8. If you’re stressed, you’re likely to get bloated. The link between your gut and your brain is real, and one really does affect the other. If you do nothing else today, take a few minutes to breathe deeply. It’s so simple, yet so effective to reduce stress.

9. Treatment is possible, if you investigate the underlying cause of your bloating. You’ll want to see a health professional who is knowledgeable in finding the reason why you are getting bloated. Many doctors tend to treat the symptoms and forget about finding out the reason why you are getting the bloating in the first place. This approach leaves you having to manage bloating for the rest of your life.