If a person is bloated and feels sick and tired, changing their eating habits may help. However, if these symptoms persist no matter what someone eats, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition.
People with a bloated stomach, nausea, and tiredness may find their stomach feels enlarged, tight, and uncomfortably full.
They may have a stomach ache or pass more gas than usual. In some cases, salty foods and carbohydrates can make someone feel sleepy or bloated.
In this article, we look at the causes of bloating, nausea, and tiredness, and what people can do to relieve these symptoms.
There are many reasons why a person might have a bloated stomach and be feeling sick and tired. Read on for some potential causes.
There are several ways a person’s eating habits and diet can contribute to feeling bloated, nauseous, or tired.
- eating too quickly
- eating large portions
- drinking carbonated drinks
- eating foods high in salt
- eating a lot of carbohydrates
Eating moderate portions of food slowly and mindfully may aid digestion and ease symptoms.
Constipation occurs when someone has less frequent bowel movements than usual. The bowel movements they do have may feel difficult, uncomfortable, or painful.
Other symptoms of constipation include:
- feeling sluggish
- stomach pain
According to John Hopkins Medicine, constipation is the most common digestive condition in the United States.
Constipation has a range of causes, including:
- sudden changes in diet or lifestyle
- not eating enough fiber
- medication that has constipation as a side effect
Treatment for constipation depends on the cause but often involves dietary and lifestyle changes. If these do not work, a doctor may prescribe a laxative.
Stress and anxiety can affect the nerves of the digestive system, slowing down the movements of the intestines. This may cause people to feel bloated, nauseous, and tired.
Stress can also contribute to constipation, as well as other gastrointestinal conditions.
- nervous habits, such as fidgeting
- muscle tension or pain
- cold or sweaty hands and feet
- insomnia or nightmares
- headaches or jaw clenching
- changes in appetite
- frequent illness, such as colds or flu
Stress can be difficult to manage. However, there are many ways someone can relieve stress, such as:
- deep breathing exercises
- yoga or meditation
- massage or self-massage
It is a good idea for people to experiment with different stress management techniques to find what helps.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when too many bacteria grow in the small intestine.
SIBO can cause:
- bloating and gas
- diarrhea or constipation
- stomach pain
People with SIBO often have low motility, meaning the small intestine does not push food through the digestive tract as it should.
Diverticulitis, abdominal surgery, and adhesions can also make SIBO more likely.
There are several types of SIBO, and the type someone has will determine their treatment. Doctors may prescribe an antibiotic or combination of antibiotics.
People with SIBO may feel relief from symptoms by following a low FODMAP diet.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are compounds that bacteria ferment, sometimes causing SIBO symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) describes a group of symptoms that affect the gastrointestinal tract, including:
- abdominal pain and cramping
- diarrhea or constipation
- white mucus in stools
Because of the range of causes, treatment for IBS varies. The low FODMAP diet, reducing stress, and medications that alleviate the symptoms can help someone manage the condition.
A variety of factors can cause IBS. Stress, early life trauma, and bacterial infections may play a role. Some people with IBS also have SIBO, food intolerances, or mental health conditions.
Gastroparesis means stomach paralysis and occurs when the stomach cannot contract. This causes food to sit in the stomach, disrupting digestion.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, gastoparesis can cause the following symptoms:
- feeling full quickly
- abdominal pain
Abdominal pain of gastroparesis occurs under the ribs, especially in the center of the upper abdomen.
As a result of these symptoms, a person may lose weight or not get enough nutrients, which can result in tiredness.
People often manage gastroparesis by changing their diet. Foods high in fat or fiber take longer to digest. Switching to softer foods, such as nutritional drinks, soups, and stews, can help.
Dumping syndrome happens when food empties from the stomach too quickly.
The International Foundation Gastrointestinal Disorders state that dumping syndrome can occur after people have had surgery to remove part of the stomach. It may also occur in people with other digestive conditions.
Along with bloating, nausea, and fatigue, the symptoms of dumping syndrome include:
- abdominal cramping
- cold sweats
Symptoms may appear during or straight after eating, or 1–3 hours after eating. Dietary changes can often help people to relieve symptoms.
Changes can include:
- eating smaller meals more frequently
- increasing complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains
- increasing foods high in soluble fiber, such as apples, carrots, and oats
- increasing protein
It can help to talk to a dietician so that a person with dumping syndrome can maintain their weight.
People may also experience:
- unusual vaginal bleeding
- pelvic pain or pressure
- feeling full quickly while eating
- difficulty eating
- constipation or more frequent bowel movements
- more frequent urination
If people have any of these symptoms, they should see their doctor right away. A doctor can request tests to determine if these symptoms are due to cancer or another condition.
In mild or temporary cases of bloating, nausea, and tiredness, a person may find their symptoms resolve with rest, bowel movements, or passing gas.
Home remedies and lifestyle changes can also help relieve symptoms. These include:
- eating smaller meals more regularly
- eating slowly and mindfully, chewing thoroughly
- trying to reduce stress
- drinking enough water throughout the day
- reducing processed foods, which can be high in fat and salt
- stopping smoking or drinking alcohol that can cause heartburn
Depending on the underlying cause, people may find increasing or decreasing fiber intake helps ease symptoms. People can talk to a healthcare professional to work out a helpful fiber intake.
If someone has persistent symptoms of SIBO or IBS after meals, they can try the low FODMAP diet to see if it eases their symptoms.
- unexplained weight loss
- persistent or severe abdominal pain
- blood in their urine or stool
- changes in the color of frequency of bowel movements
- loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
Bloating, nausea, and tiredness can occur due to a wide range of causes. Temporary explanations can include eating rich or salty meals, eating too much, or short-term stress. Longer-term causes include conditions such as IBS, SIBO, and gastroparesis.
People may feel an improvement in symptoms by changing their diet, eating habits, and by reducing stress if possible. However, for persistent or severe symptoms, a person can seek help from a doctor.