Distended Bowel Syndrome

Distended bowel syndrome is a condition in which the abdomen becomes enlarged. This condition is sometime painful. While the symptoms of this condition are fairly universal, the causes of the condition vary. Because there are usually numerous underlying conditions that cause this syndrome, a multiple faceted treatment plan is usually required.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The symptoms of distended bowl syndrome vary from person to person. They can range from being very mild in appearance to extremely severe where daily bowel problems are concerned. Some of the classic symptoms of distended bowl syndrome do include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain that can be mild or severe, and the presence of mucus in bowl movements. Individuals can develop their own pattern where specific symptoms are involved. Where some may just experience mostly diarrhea, others may have constipation with stomach pain. Additionally, the symptoms can appear and disappear without notice.


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, normal events--such as distention of gas or eating--can trigger off this condition and cause the colon to act up. The presence of certain medications, gassy foods, caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol can increase the severity of this condition. Women who are menstruating can also experience the symptoms as part of the monthly cycle. This is because reproductive hormones increase bowel syndrome symptoms.

Risk Factors

Those who are very susceptible to extreme emotional distress--such as those suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome--are the people who are more likely to develop distended bowl syndrome during stressful times. People with other digestive conditions, including ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, are also susceptible to this condition.


Distended bowel syndrome is diagnosed using an in depth medical history, as well as a journal of symptoms. The patient must keep a food, activity and symptom journal. His doctor will go over the journal to discover what the causes of his distended bowel are. This is usually done after tests to rule out a flare up of other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.


Treatment usually begins with dietary counseling, which involves teaching the patient how to avoid the trigger foods that are likely to cause a flare up. This usually starts with keeping a journal that details the foods eaten, activities that are being done and stress levels during the day. Once trigger foods are identified, the patient is taught how to avoid those foods or how to cope with the side effects of the foods.

Another part of this treatment may involve a doctor prescribing medications and/or physical exercises to help minimize the amount of gas in the abdomen. These vary from person to person according to the specific cause of the condition. Another part of the treatment involves treating the psychological and emotional factors of the condition using therapy or mental health counseling.