Many people experience abdominal swelling but are unsure what causes abdominal swelling. Most of the time, people may think that the abdominal swelling is normal  and they would just ignore it without knowing that it was brought about by an underlying disease condition. It is important to know the proper cause of the abdominal swelling so that you will be able to identify the proper treatment method that you should use.

Knowing More About Abdominal Swelling

Abdominal Swelling is also known as abdominal distention or bloating and is described as the unusual enlargement of the abdomen, particularly the area that can be found right between the groin region and the chest. Most of the important organs of the body can be found in the abdomen and any swelling of this region can be attributed to some sort of abnormalities and dysfunctions of the organs within it.

Some of the organs that are found in the abdomen are the stomach, liver, intestines, gall bladder and pancreas. Abdominal swelling or bloating can vary depending upon its severity. Usually, the swelling can range from just mild to severe distention that may already affect the normal activities of the person involved. Once the abdominal distention becomes severe, chances are, the person’s breathing will already be affected.

There are a lot of causes that can be attributed to abdominal distention aside from a mere increase in fat deposits in the body. Some of these causes can already be alarming and may signal an impending dangerous disease. Here are some of the most well-known causes of abdominal swelling.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

One of the most common causes of abdominal swelling is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also known as spastic colon or IBS. One of the characteristic symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, aside from abdominal pain, is none other than abdominal bloating.

The occurrence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often associated with infection or even stressful situations in life.  It is said that after a gastrointestinal infection, there is an observed increased incidence of the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Abdominal swelling or bloating in Irritable Bowel Syndrome is described as a feeling of discomfort and fullness related to constipation and incomplete evacuation of waste products or tenesmus.


One of the most well-known causes of abdominal distention is ascites. Ascites is described as the collection of excessive fluid in the abdominal cavity brought about by a lot of different factors. Ascites is also known as hydroperitoneum, or peritoneal fluid excess.

One of the major conditions that may lead to the development of ascites is cancer, primarily cancer involving the liver or what is known as cirrhosis. Ascites can be diagnosed by means of physical examination together with laboratory tests and scans that will confirm the presence of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.

There are several types of ascites, depending upon the severity. There are actually three grades of ascites and each one has its own description regarding the condition of the abdomen. Grade 1 Ascites is described as mild and it can only be seen by means of a CT scan or even via ultrasound. Grade 2 Ascites is described as a slightly detectable abdominal bloating with some bulging of the flan area together with shifting dullness upon percussion. Lastly, Grade 3 Ascites is described as a highly noticeable bulging of the abdomen together with what is known as the fluid thrill.


One of the most obvious causes of abdominal swelling is pregnancy, which is only applicable in women of course. Pregnancy is defined as the development of an embryo into a fetus inside the uterus of a woman. Pregnancy is known to last for 9 months or 36 to 40 weeks as the child continuously develops inside the uterus. This abdominal swelling associated with this condition is all normal. Pregnancy can be confirmed by means of several tests and even by means of ultrasound through which the contents of the abdomen and the uterus are clearly visualized and observed.

Bowel Obstruction

Another one of the most common causes of swelling of the abdomen is known as bowel obstruction. Bowel obstruction is a condition wherein the normal functioning of the digestion and bowel elimination is impaired because of a blockage or obstruction. When this happens, the bowel contents are not eliminated regularly and they will simply end up accumulating inside the intestines, thus making it bulge and eventually cause swelling of the abdomen.

The blockage or obstruction is often related to a tumor or simply a foreign object that has been some lodged in the intestines. Once bowel obstruction is detected, it is important to seek proper medical attention so that the normal digestion and bowel movement will be restored Having a bowel obstruction can provide a very uncomfortable feeling in a person and it can cause some dangerous threats to the overall health of the person involved. Not being able to maintain a normal bowel movement can definitely predispose a person to have infection and even other kinds of gastrointestinal diseases.

Hookworm Infection

Hookworm infection can also be considered as one of the main causes of the development of abdominal swelling or bloating. Hookworms are known nematodes that are parasitic in nature and are usually found inside the small intestine of the host. Some of the most common species of hookworms that infect humans are the Necator americanus and the Ancylostoma duodenale. 

These species can be found widely distributed in different parts of the world and are known to affect a great part of the population. Hookworm infection is definitely known to cause intestinal inflammation together with anemia. The intestinal inflammation will lead to the development of abdominal swelling together with ascites or accumulation of excessive fluid in the abdominal cavity.

These are some of the most common causes of abdominal swelling and it is vital for people to become aware of such symptoms so that they will know how to deal with such conditions espeically if they suspect the reason for the distension to be pathological.