Abdomen - swollen


A swollen abdomen is when your belly area is bigger than usual.

Alternative Names

Swollen belly; Swelling in the abdomen; Abdominal distention; Distended abdomen


Abdominal swelling, or distention, is more often caused by overeating than by a serious illness. This problem can be caused by:

Home Care

A swollen abdomen that is caused by eating a heavy meal will go away when you digest the food. Eating in moderation will help prevent swelling.

For a swollen abdomen caused by swallowing air:

For a swollen abdomen caused by malabsorption, try changing your diet and limiting milk. Talk to your doctor.

For irritable bowel syndrome:

For a swollen abdomen due to other causes, follow prescribed therapy to treat the cause.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history, such as:

Tests that may be done include:


Mcquaid K. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 134.

Squires RA, Postier RG. Acute abdomen.In:Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 47.

Review Date: 10/14/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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