Bloating is one of the most frequently experienced problems by women entering perimenopause and menopause. It is so prevalent that it is often referred to as menopausal bloat. Bloating caused by gas can lead to discomfort and be awkward and embarrassing. Bloating will lead to tightness around your abdominal area, which can last for hours or days and can result in episodes of flatulence. Women who experienced these symptoms when suffering from PMS when they were younger are more likely to experience them after 50.
What Causes Bloating During Menopause?
During early menopause, you will see a significant fluctuation in hormone levels, which can result in a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. One of the primary shifts that you will experience is a drastic change in your levels of estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that is responsible for keeping the right levels of bile and water in the body. When these levels begin to fluctuate, your body will respond by storing more water which can lead to bloat. When estrogen affects bile production, your body will digest fats differently which can result in higher levels of flatulence in the digestive tract.
There are other issues that can lead to gas and bloating in your 50s that are not directly related to the level of hormones in your body.
Digestion – Your gas and bloating can be a result of a slower digestive system which can come with age. This can also result in constipation.
Diet – To offset weight gain from menopause, many women will make changes in their diet to keep weight down, such as adding more fresh fruits and vegetables. While your body adapts to the diet changes, you may see an increase in gas.
Air – Swallowing more air can lead to increased gas in the body. This usually occurs when drinking carbonated beverages or chewing gum, which many women do when they hit menopause to combat dry mouth.
Eating habits – Your 50s can be one of the busiest times of your life, and as you run around to take care of all of your daily activities, you may be eating more quickly than you should. Eating too much or too rapidly can create a buildup of food that can cause problems with your digestive system.
Gut flora – The changes that occur during menopause can change the good bacteria in your digestive system that is responsible for breaking down food. An imbalance of this bacteria can lead to problems with your body processing food and result in gas and constipation.
What Can Cause Bloating After Menopause?
Unfortunately bloating is not only a concern during menopause years but can continue to get worse as you age, even after your hormones have had time to stabilize. While diet and lifestyle can still cause bloating issues after menopause, there are other things that may be your culprit for your bloating.
Functional Dyspepsia – This is a chronic disorder that affects your upper digestive tract and can cause bloating, gas, fullness, abdominal pain, and indigestion. While the exact causes of functional dyspepsia are unknown, it is sometimes associated with excess acid, food allergies, diet, medication side effects, and inflammation of the stomach.
Complications with NSAID – Throughout your life, it is likely that you have taken a large amount of NSAIDs, either over-the-counter or by prescription. These are commonly used because they have little side effects. Unfortunately, over time, they can begin to cause damage to your upper digestive tract. By the time you reach your fifties, you may begin to feel the side effects of these medications such as a higher risk of ulcers, increased stomach acid, bloating, and digestive issues.
Diverticular Disease – Another concern that can affect women over 50 is diverticular disease. This can occur when small out-pouches push through the outer wall of the colon into the colon lining. They are frequently found in the lower intestines and can become worse with age. It can lead to bathroom issues as well as increased gas and bloating.
Other Serious Causes Behind Bloating and Gas
There can be other causes of gas that are related to more pressing concerns, so you should always discuss problems with bloating, and gas with your doctor if it comes on suddenly, is extreme or very painful, results in weight loss, causes severe diarrhea or constipation, or leads to a disruption in your life. Some more serious concerns behind bloating include:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
How to Reduce Gas and Bloating?
The good news is, there are several ways to reduce the discomfort of gas and bloating as well as the frequency in which it occurs.
Chew thoroughly – The act of chewing actual triggers your stomach to begin producing enzymes so by the time you get the food in your stomach, the digestion process can begin.
Stay hydrated – Drinking water can help the digestive process operate more smoothly and prevent you from eating to the point of discomfort.
Exercise regularly – Exercise can reduce stress and keep things moving along your digestive tract.
Watch what you eat – Many people think eating a healthy diet will ensure proper digestion. Unfortunately, many healthy foods can cause a buildup of gas and bloat such as beans, broccoli, and whole-wheat bread. You may also have identified other food triggers such as dairy, refined sugar, or gluten. Know the food that triggers bloating and gas and try to eliminate them as much as possible from your diet.
Drink some peppermint tea – Peppermint tea is an excellent home remedy that can reduce gas and settle your digestive system.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco – Both of these can trigger bloating and other digestive issues.
What are Some Ways That You Can Treat Bloating and Gas?
While lifestyle changes are the best way to keep bloating and gas at bay for good, if you are still experiencing problems and your doctor has ruled out any other major health concerns that could be causing it, there are over-the-counter medications that can aid in reducing symptoms. Some of the over-the-counter treatments you can try include:
Anti-bloating medications – These are available at any drug store or shopping center. If you are unsure which one to choose for your symptoms, the pharmacists will be able to make some recommendations.
Diuretics – Diuretics work by preventing your body from holding excess water. You should consult with your doctor before taking diuretics to make sure that they are safe for you to use.
Hormonal birth control pills – Hormonal birth control pills can help reduce bloating and other symptoms of PMS if you still have periods. They work by stabilizing the hormones in your body.
Hormone replacement therapy – Many women will choose menopausal hormone therapy when going through menopause to alleviate the symptoms and discomforts that come along with the shift in hormones. This type of treatment works by regulating both your progesterone and estrogen levels to keep them balanced. If you are considering hormone therapy, you should discuss your options and the potential side effects with your doctor.
Bloating and gas can be one of the most uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms of menopause and aging. Luckily with a few lifestyle changes, you can get control of it and lessen the symptoms in many cases. If yous bloating or gas becomes severe or recurs frequently, you should talk with your doctor to rule out other possible medical concerns or discuss medication options that can help improve your comfort.