Feeling bloated and nauseous

Every newborn is a blessing, and every birth is unique. Part of our goal at the Family BirthPlace is to encourage your family members to participate throughout your entire pregnancy. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are part of a major life change, and the process can be filled with anticipation, questions, and concerns. We’re here to offer pregnancy advice and support along the way.

Here’s what you can expect during each stage of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

First Trimester (1–14 Weeks)

During the first three months of pregnancy (or the first trimester), your body goes through many changes as it adjusts to your growing baby.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Absence of menstrual period
  • Feeling tired and sleepy
  • Frequent urination
  • Heartburn, indigestion
  • Food aversions and cravings
  • Constipation
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Gas, bloating
  • Breast changes

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Weepiness
  • Irritability
  • Misgivings and fear
  • Joy

First Trimester Care and Changes

Vitamin Intake: Taking the vitamins ordered by your doctor is extremely important. The vitamins may cause your stool to be darker, and you may have problems with constipation. If you experience these problems, talk to your doctor. Do not take any medications (including over-the-counter medications) without asking your doctor.

Exercise: Continue your usual physical and household activities. Walking is great exercise that requires no training or equipment. We also suggest swimming in shallow water (that is neither hot nor cold), riding a stationary bike, (at a comfortable speed and tension) and performing exercises especially designed for pregnant women. You should now begin pelvic toning (Kegel exercises) and relaxation exercises daily.

Diet: During the first trimester, you need to consume an extra 300 calories each day.

Sexual Relations: Most experts agree sex and orgasm during a low-risk pregnancy are safe. Sexual relations are important to a marriage or relationship, so here are our recommendations:

  • Emphasize love rather than love making
  • Frequency is less important than quality
  • Stay rested; get your sleep
  • Try new positions if you are uncomfortable

If you have a history of miscarriage or signs of a threatened miscarriage, your doctor may recommend some restrictions.

Common Concerns

Fatigue: Take care of yourself and let others help you. Try to get more sleep and eat a proper diet. Check your work and home environment for poor ventilation, poor lighting, or excessive noise that add to fatigue.

Mood Swings: Avoid sugar, chocolate, and caffeine. Proper diet, rest, sleep and exercise may help.

Morning Sickness: Eat a high-complex-carbohydrate diet; drink plenty of fluids; take your vitamins; and try to avoid the sight, smell, and taste of foods that make you queasy. Try eating crackers 20 minutes before rising in the morning, and get up slowly. Brush your teeth or rinse after each bout of vomiting. Minimize stress and practice relaxation techniques. Sea-Bands (bands worn on the wrist for motion sickness) are available at drug stores and may offer some relief.

Excessive Saliva: Also called ptyalism, an excessive flow of saliva is common and harmless. Frequent brushing and rinsing with a mint-flavored toothpaste or mouthwash and chewing sugarless gum may help.

Frequent Urination: This condition is caused by an increase in body fluid and pressure from your growing uterus. Lean forward when you empty your bladder.

Headaches: Your increasing hormone levels may lead to headaches. Try to relax, seek quiet places, get enough rest, eat regularly, don’t get overheated, and stay away from unventilated areas. Alternately apply hot and cold compresses to the aching area every 30 seconds. And stand tall: slouching and looking down causes headaches.

Breast Changes: Your breasts will enlarge and become very tender due to your increased hormone levels. The areola (dark area around nipple) will darken, and you may notice little bumps, which are tiny glands. The veins become more visible. Increased weight from your enlarged breasts may cause some back discomfort that a well-fitted support bra can help alleviate.

Gas and constipation: Constipation, which is common during pregnancy, can cause gas and bloating, so eat less and more often. You can cut down on constipation by drinking warm liquids in the morning, developing a regular bathroom schedule, drinking more fluids, and eating more fruits and vegetables. It is important to avoid gas-producing foods.

Warning Signs

Warning signs of a potential problem or miscarriage during the first trimester may include mild cramps or spotting. Lie down and rest if this occurs. Spotting is common during pregnancy—especially around the time you would normally expect your period. If pain increases and bleeding is similar to your period, contact your healthcare provider.

If you experience any of the following signs, go to the Level III Emergency and Trauma Center at Saint Francis Medical Center:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding with cramps or pain in the center or one-side of your lower abdomen
  • Pain that continues for more than a day, even if there is no bleeding
  • Passing clots or grayish-pink material
  • A temperature more than 100 F and no flu symptoms, or a temperature that lasts more than one day

Second Trimester (15–27 Weeks)

During your second trimester of pregnancy, you will feel better and your growing baby will not cause you discomfort. Every three weeks, you should meet with your doctor to test your weight, blood pressure, and urine; measure the height of your uterus; check your baby’s heart rate; and check for signs of swelling.

Your doctor may order special tests (such as a sonogram) to determine the size, age, and growth of your baby. A sonogram is a painless test used to locate the placenta (afterbirth) and is not harmful to your baby. A fetal activity test (FAT) monitors your baby’s heart rate and movements. We will perform your FAT and sonograms at Saint Francis Medical Center.

Physical Symptoms:

  • End of or decrease in nausea and vomiting, and a decrease in urinary frequency
  • Fatigue, constipation, heartburn, indigestion, and gas
  • Breast enlargement, though they will be less tender
  • Slight whitish vaginal discharge
  • Occasional lightheadedness, dizziness, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, increase in appetite, mild swelling of ankles and feet, swelling of the hands and face, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids
  • Fetal movement, backache, skin pigmentation changes, and increased pulse rate
  • Dropping things

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Mood swings (less severe)
  • Joy and/or fear as you become more aware of your pregnancy
  • Frustration and boredom
  • Forgetfulness or having problems concentrating

Second Trimester Care and Changes

Exercise: Exercise is still important, but do not exhaust yourself. Walking is one of the best choices, so take a daily walk at a comfortable rate if weather permits. Keep up your Kegel exercises as well as pelvic rocking. Maintain correct posture.

Diet: Eat smaller but more frequent meals. Fresh fruits and vegetables should help you maintain regular bowel movements. Increase your fluids.

Breathlessness: This is due to an increased level of hormones in your body. As your pregnancy advances, your uterus pushes up against your diaphragm.

Forgetfulness: Forgetting an appointment, losing things and having problems concentrating are normal and temporary. Recognize these problems as a normal part of pregnancy and try to reduce your stress. Keep a good sense of humor—and checklists.

Hair Dyes and Perms: It is best to avoid hair dyes and/or perms during your pregnancy. If you are concerned about gray hair, try a pure vegetable coloring.

Nasal Stuffiness: Nasal stuffiness often occurs with pregnancy. If pollen affects you, drink more fluids and stay indoors with a filtered air conditioner. Avoid animals and dust. Nosebleeds may occur. Try applying Vaseline in each nostril, squeeze your nose for a few seconds, and apply a cold cloth. Use a vaporizer or humidifier.

Vaginal Discharge: A thick, milky, mild-smelling discharge is normal throughout pregnancy. Do not douche unless prescribed by your doctor. If the discharge is yellowish, greenish, or thick and cheesy; has a foul odor; or is accompanied by burning, itching or soreness, you likely have an infection. Notify your doctor for treatment. Good hygiene habits, a good diet, and avoiding refined sugar can hasten your recovery.

Fetal Movement: Fetal movement indicates your baby is healthy and active. The first time your baby moves can be very exciting and usually occurs between 14 and 22 weeks. By 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy, fetal movement is well established. Your doctor will ask you about your baby’s activity at your appointments. As your pregnancy progresses, try to be very aware of your baby’s movements.

Appearance: You will obviously look pregnant and may find loose clothing or maternity clothes are more comfortable.

Advice: Everyone has advice for an expecting mother, including your mother, mother-in-law, family, and friends. Your doctor, childbirth educator, and nurse are your best resources.

Fatigue: Your body is working harder. Slow things down but do not stop. Make sure to monitor your activities and exercise. Try sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your legs. A good night of sleep and an afternoon nap are the best medicine for fatigue.

Backache: Your growing uterus is placing more pressure on your lower back, so good body mechanics are important—and watch your weight gain. Also, do not wear high heel shoes and avoid heavy lifting. Try to relax, and have your partner massage your back.

Sore feet: As your pregnancy advances, your feet may become slightly larger. Wear comfortable shoes with low heels. Foot massages will also help.

Travel: Check with your doctor before making plans, and make sure to carry a copy of your obstetrical history if you travel. Don’t sit for a long time. Eat a good diet and drink plenty of fluids. If you must travel outside the country, drink bottled water and avoid uncooked foods.

Dental Problems: Your gums may be swollen and bleed. Floss and brush regularly, and attend to any other dental problems.

Itchy Abdomen: Pregnant bellies become itchier as the months progress. Try not to scratch. Ask your doctor to prescribe a lotion that may help.

Overheating: During pregnancy your metabolic rate is higher, so you feel warmer. Bathe often, use a good antiperspirant, and dress in layers so you can remove some clothing if you feel warm.

Premature labor: Premature labor is when labor starts before week 36 of your pregnancy. If premature labor is not stopped, it will result in the birth of a baby who is too small and may have difficulty breathing. There are many factors that can increase the risk of premature labor:

  • Smoking: Stop now.
  • Alcohol and Drugs: Avoid completely. Do not take any medications, including over-the-counter medicines, without the approval of your doctor.
  • Infection: Reduce your risk of infection by staying away from crowds. Don’t hold your urine, as it may increase your risk of infection.
  • Incompetent Cervix: This is when the cervix opens prematurely. If undiagnosed, it can lead to a late miscarriage or early labor. If diagnosed, you can avoid premature labor by having your cervix sutured closed around week 14.
  • Heavy Physical Work: Premature labor may be caused by heavy work and standing too long. Avoid these activities.
  • Poor Diet and Poor Weight Gain: Women who do not eat well and do not have an adequate weight gain are at risk for premature labor.
  • Previous Premature Labor: If you have a history of premature delivery, abstain from sex during the last two to three months of pregnancy. If you think you are having premature labor, contact your doctor immediately. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, all emergency care is provided at the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace. Go there immediately.

Premature Rupture of Membranes: When the bag of water surrounding your baby breaks or starts to leak before 37 weeks, it is referred to as premature rupture of membranes. The membranes serve as protection against infection for your baby. Signs of premature rupture include any leakage, a sudden rush of fluid, a small tickle or if you feel wet. Do not wait for labor or hope it will stop. Come to the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace immediately. Infection can happen quickly, harming you and your baby.

Urinary Tract Infections: If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately:

  • A feeling you have to urinate all the time
  • A burning sensation when you pass urine
  • Only passing a drop or two of urine
  • Sharp lower abdominal pain
  • Elevated temperature

To prevent urinary tract infections:

  • Drink lots of water, unsweetened citrus or cranberry juice
  • Avoid coffee, tea (even decaffeinated) and alcohol
  • Do not hold your urine
  • Take your time, lean forward to help empty your bladder
  • Wear cotton or cotton-lined panties
  • Don’t wear tight pants or pantyhose under your pants
  • Sleep without panties
  • Avoid perfumed soaps, sprays or powders
  • Wipe from front to back
  • When taking antibiotics, eat unsweetened yogurt or frozen yogurt, which contain active cultures that help protect against getting a urinary tract infection
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep
  • Do your relaxation exercises and avoid stress

Warning signs of a potential problem during the second trimester of pregnancy may include:

  • A gush or steady leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • Pain or burning when urinating and/or fever more than 101 F
  • Vision problems, blurring
  • Severe headache for more than 2 to 3 hours
  • Swelling or puffiness of hands and face, especially with a headache
  • Sudden weight gain if you haven’t overeaten
  • Coughing up blood

If you experience any of these signs before your 20th week, go to the Level III Emergency and Trauma Center at Saint Francis Medical Center. After 20 weeks, go directly to the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace.

Third Trimester (28–40 Weeks)

During the third trimester of pregnancy, you will visit the doctor every two weeks and then once a week beginning at week 36. Visits will include weight, blood pressure, and urine testing; measuring the height of the uterus, the size/position of your baby, and the baby’s heart rate. We will also be checking for signs of swelling and asking about Braxton Hicks contractions. At 36 weeks your doctor will perform blood work, an internal examination and repeat cultures.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Fatigue (report extreme fatigue to your doctor, as it may be a sign of anemia)
  • Changes in fetal movement; more squirming due to less room
  • Increase in whitish discharge
  • Lower abdominal ache
  • Constipation
  • Occasional headaches and nasal congestion
  • Occasional nosebleeds and bleeding gums
  • Leg cramps and backache
  • Discomfort and achiness in the buttocks and pelvic area
  • Mild swelling of the ankles and feet
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Clumsiness
  • Colostrum
  • Loss or gain of appetite

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Increased apprehension and irritation
  • Absentmindedness
  • Increased dreaming, fantasizing and boredom
  • Feeling tired may or may not increase as you carry more weight
  • Trouble sleeping (try sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your legs)

Third Trimester Care and Changes

Exercise: There are several exercise programs for expecting and post delivery mothers. Your doctor can suggest some, but you’ll need to know your own limitations. This is not the time to start an exercise program if you have never exercised before. Try walking.

Diet: A balanced diet is still key. Frequent, smaller meals will make you feel more comfortable. After your baby drops, you will experience less stomach discomfort. Before labor begins, many mothers actually lose weight or stop gaining.

Sexual relations: If you have a normal pregnancy you can have sex, but you may have to look for a more comfortable position. It’s normal to lose temporary interest in sex. If you have risk factors for premature labor, have any bleeding or are carrying multiples, sex may be restricted. Check with your doctor.

Regular activities: Continue with your activities of daily living, as long you do not tire. Take rest periods throughout the day. Get off your feet, raise your legs, listen to relaxing music or take a nap. Slowly decrease the amount of bending, lifting, stooping and pushing you do as your pregnancy advances. Avoid carrying heavy laundry baskets and groceries, especially in your last trimester. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, especially in warmer weather. By taking care of yourself you are taking good care of your baby.

Swelling (Edema): Swelling is very common late in your pregnancy, especially in the evenings, during warm weather and after standing or sitting for a long time. Most swelling disappears overnight or if you lie down for a long time. Prevent swelling by wearing comfortable shoes, avoiding elastic-top socks and stockings, and wearing support hose. Fluids to help flush out wastes and avoiding excessive salt should help control swelling. If swelling lasts more than 24 hours with a rapid weight gain, headaches, or vision problems, see your doctor.

Safety: Your balance is poor because your center of gravity keeps shifting and your joints are less stable. Daydreaming may cause accidents. Be careful and report any falls to your doctor. If you notice vaginal bleeding, leaking fluid, abdominal tenderness or uterine contractions, come directly to the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace.

Hiccups: Believe it or not, your baby can get hiccups while in the womb. Don’t panic. This will not hurt your baby.

Backache: The pressure of your growing uterus can affect the sciatic nerve, causing low back, buttock and leg pain. Get off your feet, lie down, rest and relax. Warm compresses may reduce pain.

Dreams and Fantasies: Dreams give clues into your feelings that can help you with your transition to motherhood. You can expect them during your last trimester. They can be both horrifying and pleasant and occur during the day and night. Each dream and fantasy may express one or more of these concerns:

  • Being unprepared, losing things, forgetting things
  • Being attacked or hurt by intruders/animals or falling
  • Gaining too much weight, forgetting to drink milk
  • Losing appeal, not being attractive
  • Sexual encounters, both positive and negative, pleasure or guilt provoking
  • Death, loss, resurrection
  • What your baby will be like

Stress Incontinence: The pressure of your growing uterus on your bladder can cause stress incontinence (leaking urine when you laugh, cough or sneeze). Kegel exercises may help prevent incontinence.

Braxton Hicks Contractions: These contractions are usually painless but may be uncomfortable because of the tightening of your uterus. They become more frequent as you get closer to delivering. Changing your position may stop them completely. Try lying down and relaxing or getting up and walking. Report these contractions to your doctor if they are very frequent, are accompanied by pain or unusual vaginal discharge, or if you are at high risk for premature labor.

Bathing: Tub bathing is safe in normal pregnancies until your membranes rupture or the mucous plug is expelled. Safety is most important. Make sure someone is available to help you in and out of the bathtub. When showering, make sure there is a nonslip surface to help prevent falls.

Lightening (engagement): This is when your baby drops into the pelvis. With a first pregnancy, this usually happens two to four weeks before delivery. In women who already have had children, it rarely occurs until they go into labor. Your belly seems lower and tilted forward and you can breathe easier. There is less discomfort when you eat but more pressure on your bladder. Your center of gravity shifts again, and you may feel off balance, so be cautious.

Urinary Tract Infections: If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

  • A feeling you have to urinate all the time
  • A burning sensation when you pass your urine
  • A small amount or only drops of urine
  • Sharp lower abdominal pain
  • Elevated temperature
  • Blood in your urine

Prelabor Symptoms:

  • Lightening (engagement)
  • Sensation of increased pressure in the pelvic and rectum area
  • Loss of weight or cessation of weight gain
  • Change in energy level (energy spurts, nesting instinct)
  • Change in vaginal discharge, loss of mucous plug, pink or bloody show
  • Braxton Hicks contractions increase
  • Diarrhea

False Labor Symptoms:

  • Contractions are not regular and do not get longer or stronger
  • Pain is in your lower abdomen rather than your lower back
  • Contractions stop if you walk around or change positions
  • Fetal movements increase briefly with contractions (A lot of activity or movement could mean your baby is in distress and you should see your doctor.)

Real Labor Symptoms:

  • Contractions get longer, stronger and closer together and get stronger when you change positions or activity
  • Pain begins in the lower back and spreads to the lower abdomen and may radiate to your legs
  • Pinkish or blood-stained show is present
  • Before labor begins, membranes may rupture in a gush or a trickle.

Warning signs of a potential problem during the third trimester of pregnancy include bleeding and spotting. The answers to “Is it time to have my baby?” and “Is something wrong?” depend upon the type of bleeding. Pinkish-stained or red-streaked mucous appearing soon after sex or vagina examination or brownish spotting 48 hours later is normal and not a warning sign, but you should report it to your doctor. Bright red bleeding or persistent spotting needs immediate attention. Come to the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace. Pinkish or brownish tint or bloody mucous along with contractions could mean labor is starting.

Signs of premature labor (labor pains before 37 weeks) include:

  • Menstrual-like cramps with or without diarrhea, nausea or indigestion
  • Lower back pain or pressure
  • An achiness or pressure in the pelvis, thighs or groin
  • A watery or brownish discharge or passage of a thick gelatin-like plug (mucous plug)
  • A trickle or gush of fluid (rupture of membranes)

If you think your membranes have ruptured, go to the Saint Francis Family BirthPlace immediately. If you have leakage, trickles, a sudden gush or feel very wet, you must see your doctor. Infection can happen quickly and can harm you and your baby.

Warning signs during late pregnancy include:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • A gush or steady leaking of fluid
  • Painful burning when urinating and/or temperature more than 100.4 F
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headache for more than 2 or 3 hours
  • Swelling or puffiness of hands and face, especially with a headache
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Coughing up blood

Contact

To learn more about how the Family BirthPlace at Saint Francis Medical Center supports mother and baby through all pregnancy stages, call 877–231-BABY (2229).

What causes abdominal bloating?

Abdominal bloating is not unusual. Many people experience the same type of bloating again and again. Bloating that follows a predictable pattern is usually nothing to worry about.

When the pattern changes or the bloating becomes worse than normal, it may be because of one of the following conditions:

Gas

Share on PinterestMany causes of abdominal bloating are nothing to worry about and can be treated at home.

A buildup of gas in the stomach and intestines is among the most common causes of bloating. Other possible symptoms include:

  • excessive belching
  • excessive flatulence
  • feeling an intense urge to have a bowel movement
  • feeling nauseous

Bloating caused by gas ranges from mild discomfort to intense pain. Some people describe feeling as if there is something trapped inside their stomach.

Gas can be caused by:

  • certain foods, including cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage
  • a stomach infection
  • chronic illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease
  • indigestion
  • a range of other conditions

In most cases, gas goes away on its own after a few hours.

Indigestion

Indigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia, is discomfort or pain in the stomach. Most people experience brief episodes of indigestion from time to time.

It is often caused by:

  • eating too much
  • excessive alcohol
  • medications that irritate the stomach, such as ibuprofen
  • a minor stomach infection

Frequent indigestion that does not appear to be associated with food or other apparent causes could be a sign of something more serious. Possible causes include a stomach ulcer, cancer, or liver failure.

Infection

Stomach infections can cause gas, which may also be accompanied by:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • stomach pain

These are often due to bacteria such as Escherichia coli or Helicobacter pylori, or a viral infection such as norovirus or rotavirus.

Stomach infections usually go away on their own after a few days. However, some people may become severely dehydrated or continue to get worse over several days. These individuals should see a doctor if the bloating coincides with:

  • fever
  • bloody stool
  • severe and frequent vomiting

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

The stomach and intestines are home to a variety of bacteria, many of which help the body digest food. Disturbing the balance of these bacteria can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria present in the small intestine. This is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO.

SIBO can cause bloating, frequent diarrhea, and may lead to difficulties digesting food and absorbing nutrients. For some people, SIBO can lead to osteoporosis or unintentional weight loss.

Fluid retention

Eating salty foods, having food intolerances, and experiencing changes in hormone levels can all cause a person’s body to retain more fluid than it would otherwise. Some women find that they are bloated immediately before getting their periods or early in pregnancy.

Chronic bloating due to fluid retention could have a more serious cause, such as diabetes or kidney failure. If the bloating does not go away, a person should speak to a doctor.

Food intolerances

Some people become bloated after eating certain foods. For example, people who are lactose intolerant, or who have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. The bloating usually goes away on its own but may be linked to diarrhea or stomach pain.

Chronic disorders

Chronic gut disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease, can also cause frequent bloating. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract, whereas IBS is poorly understood and is often diagnosed when chronic gut symptoms have no obvious cause.

Both IBS and Crohn’s can cause gas, diarrhea, vomiting, and unintentional weight loss.

Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects normal stomach emptying. The stomach muscles stop working properly, which causes food to pass much more slowly through the stomach and intestines.

Symptoms include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • feeling full very quickly when eating
  • loss of appetite
  • heartburn
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain and discomfort

Another condition, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, usually causes gastroparesis.

Gynecological disorders

Some gynecological problems cause stomach pain. In some women, endometriosis can cause cramping and bloating. This happens when the lining of the womb attaches to the stomach or intestines.

Referred pain from the pelvis may also resemble that of bloating.

Constipation

Constipation often causes bloating. Causes of constipation include:

  • dehydration
  • not enough fiber in the diet
  • food intolerance
  • pregnancy
  • certain bowel disorders
  • nutrient deficiencies, including magnesium
  • certain medicines

In most people, episodes of constipation are short-lived.

Other causes

Less commonly, abdominal bloating may be due to other serious conditions. People with gallstones or gallbladder disease may experience intense abdominal pain that mimics bloating. Cancers of the stomach or intestines may also lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating.

Ascites is another condition that leads to abdominal pain and bloating. Ascites is a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity over a period of time. The most common cause of this is liver disease.

5 Signs Your Bloating Could Be Something Serious

Bloating is–­thankfully–usually just an annoyance. Your belly inflates and you feel uncomfortable, but you move around, drink some water, or sleep it off and it goes away. You chalk it up to your upcoming period or something you ate, like broccoli, beans, or too much fruit.

Every once in a while, though, bloating can be a sign of a more serious illness. For instance, it can be one of the first symptoms women notice of ovarian cancer. In a recent survey, UK charity Target Ovarian Cancer found that just 34% of women would talk to a doctor if they were regularly bloated; 50% said they’d make a change to their diet instead. A previous survey by the same group found that just 20% of women knew that bloating could be a symptom of ovarian cancer.

Feeling bloated in and of itself isn’t enough to point to cancer. There are other things to look for that can help you distinguish bloating that’s just a nuisance from bloating that warrants medical attention. Here are the symptoms you should talk to your doctor about.

RELATED: Bloated All the Time? 11 Reasons Why

Pain

Ovarian cancer bloating is due to a buildup of fluid (called ascites) in your abdomen and can also come with pain. Most of the fluid is formed from cancer cells, but it can also be the result of blockages in the lymphatic drainage system or intestinal blockages caused by the presence of cancer, says Lauren Cobb, MD, assistant professor of gynecologic, oncologic, and reproductive medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Painful bloating could also signal a bowel obstruction, a blockage in the small or large intestine that stops food from passing through.

Bloating that doesn’t go away

For bloating to be potentially worrisome, it generally needs to have lasted for more than two weeks in a month, says Monique Swain, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

If bloating doesn’t go away after making simple diet swaps or going to the bathroom, speak up. “If bloating is persistent and does not vary with changing eating habits or bowel movements, it is a good idea to seek medical care,” adds Alex Hewlett, DO, associate professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Changes in bathroom habits

Another clue that bloating could be a sign of ovarian cancer is a change in your bathroom behavior. Out-of-the-ordinary bowel or urinary issues can be a tip something is wrong.

For example, you might suddenly need to go to the bathroom more urgently “if a mass is big enough and pressing on the bladder,” says Dr. Swain.

Appetite changes

Bloating can also be a sign of other cancers, like breast, pancreatic, colon, and stomach cancer, if the cancer appears along the lining of the abdominal cavity, says Dr. Cobb.

Large masses that take up a lot of space in the abdominal area can lead to changes in appetite, like feeling full very quickly or not wanting to eat. Some people with bloating due to cancer also experience nausea and vomiting.

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Fatigue

Liver disease–which can be caused by alcohol use, hepatitis C, cancer, and more–can also lead to bloating and fluid buildup.

“Normally, this is a slow, insidious process where you just start to feel it in the lower belly,” Dr. Hewlett says. “As it progresses, your belly becomes more and more distended with fluid.”

If your bloating is due to liver disease, you might also feel tired, bruise easily, or develop jaundice, a yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes. “Seek medical care if there are other symptoms associated with bloating like these,” Dr. Hewlett adds.

Congestive heart failure can also result in bloating, not just in the abdomen but with swelling in the legs too.

In both heart failure and liver disease, bloating is usually a later symptom of the condition. “Once you get bloating and fluid retention, it may mean the disease process affecting your liver or heart is advanced,” says Dr. Hewlett. It’s important to speak up about your symptoms sooner rather than later.

Understanding GP

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

Intro / Digestion / Who gets GP / What happens / Symptoms / Dx / Mild forms / Tx

Symptoms:

Imagine being healthy one minute, then terribly ill with stomach flu-like symptoms the next. However, the stomach flu does not go away. You fall chronically ill with these symptoms for years; you are assaulted by bouts of daily nausea—in the most severe cases, unrelenting vomiting.

This is the picture of idiopathic gastroparesis. No one can really explain what happened to make you so sick. The medication to treat this stomach disorder doesn’t always seem to help.

Regardless of how one develops gastroparesis, the symptoms are similar for all. Listen to the voices of the sufferers. They can describe the symptoms of gastroparesis better than anyone can.

Mid-abdominal discomfort after eating is a frequent complaint. Some have described it as a “large rock sitting in your gut”. For others, this is not just discomfort, but actual pain.

“Every time I eat, the abdominal pain is unbearable.”

“The bloating is horrible, I just ‘balloon-up’ after eating.”

“I’m afraid to eat, I feel so sick afterwards.”

Nausea, especially in the evening, is also very common, along with acid reflux (the bitter taste of stomach acid washing up into the mouth).

“If only someone could take away this terrible nausea!”

“I live with this nausea twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I can’t take it anymore.”

Another characteristic symptom of gastroparesis is vomiting of undigested food many hours after eating due to the weakened stomach’s inability to properly churn and mix food.

“I wake up in the middle of the night vomiting.”

Unrelenting vomiting may occur in those with severe gastroparesis.
Now read what the experts say—those who treat these patients:

“Nausea and abdominal pain are the most common complaints of patients with gastroparesis.”

“Nausea is a very severe, debilitating symptom, and antiemetics should be used extensively.”

“Once nausea leads to vomiting, a cycle invariably ensues, resulting in dehydration and hospital admission.”

“Therapy in gastroparesis should be aggressive and extra antiemetic efforts supplied in addition to the prokinetics…”

In severe cases, people have trouble keeping food down. To stop the dramatic starvation that they are faced with, they may need nutritional support via tubes inserted into their intestines, or total intravenous nutrition. Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) means feeding not by mouth, but by a needle, and in this situation, a catheter line delivering liquid nourishment.

For less severe cases of gastroparesis, all the same symptoms are there: nausea, intermittent vomiting, bloating, belching, acid reflux, pain, and loss of appetite.

Other vague symptoms can also occur with gastroparesis and may be related to autonomic nerve involvement. Autonomic nerve involvement in idiopathic and diabetic gastroparesis is fairly common. These symptoms may include:

  • lightheadedness (especially with body position changes),

  • sweating abnormalities,

  • difficulty in urinating,

  • tingling sensations in the extremities and,

  • circulatory changes in extremities.

2. McCallum, Richard W., M.D., and Sabu, J. George, M.D., Kansas City, Kansas: Clinical Perspectives in Gastroenterology, May/June, 2001

YOUR chances of curing a serious health problem are much higher if you catch the disease in its earliest stages.

However, a recent study has revealed that the UK is suffering from a chronic lack of awareness with regards to detecting and addressing health conditions and symptoms.

1 A study has revealed that the UK is suffering from a lack of awareness when it comes to detecting health problemsCredit: Getty – Contributor

The research, by health insurer Cigna Europe, found that more than one in six Brits have experienced heart problems – but more than a quarter ignored the symptoms.

Similarly, it revealed awareness of detecting and addressing heart health problems was low in the UK, with only 30 per cent of people knowing their blood pressure and less than a third of Brits knowing their BMI number.

Here, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patient.info, talks The Sun through the six key symptoms you should never ignore – as they could be a sign of something potentially serious.

1. Feeling thirsty

Raised blood sugar can lead to a combination of tiredness, thirst and needing to pass water more often, along with minor infection such as recurrent thrush or boils.

In type 1 diabetes these symptoms are often dramatic and accompanied by rapid weight loss.

But with type 2 diabetes they can be vague and are often overlooked or put down to the stresses of modern life.

2. Blood in your pee

Even if this happens just once, it needs checking out.

While cystitis can cause blood in the urine, so can bladder cancer.

In the early stages, bladder cancer may not cause blood in the urine regularly, so just because it goes away doesn’t meant it can be safely ignored.

Other issues can also lead to blood in your pee (cystitis is a good example) but with this you’ll usually get other symptoms like burning and stinging when you pee and low tummy pain.

3. Bruising for no reason

This can be due to a shortage of platelets (which help your blood clot when you cut yourself) in your blood or even to leukaemia.

Don’t panic – it’s often down to other causes such as taking aspirin or anticoagulants like warfarin – but it should still be checked out.

4. A croaky voice

Hoarseness which lasts for more than 3 weeks is something that needs checking out.

If you’re a smoker, it’s particularly important to get this checked – although there are lots of other causes, it could signal cancer.

5. Night sweats

These are very common around the menopause.

However, persistent night sweats and low-grade fever could signal the blood cancer lymphoma.

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6. Feeling bloated a lot

Bloating that comes and goes after a big meal (if you’re a woman) is very common.

But if it’s there all the time, and particularly if it’s accompanied by feeling full more quickly after eating, pelvic or tummy pain that’s there at least 12 day a month, see your doctor urgently.

It could be a symptom of ovarian cancer.

NHS video explains the symptoms of stress and how to deal with it

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