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what is cause for hard bulging stomach?

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I am 19 years old, female, 5'5", and weigh 130. For almost a year, my stomach has been hard as a rock! Feel like I have good abs. But my stomach is sticking out and I look like I'm 3 months pregnant. Its not fat, because its solid. I don't know what is going on. I went on somewhat of a gluten free diet and it went down a little. My dad has had a hyena, if its likely for me to get one as well. Also doing exercises for inner thighs causes lower stomach pain like menstrual cramps. Any ideas what could be wrong?
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replied March 31st, 2012
Welcome to e health forum.

It is possible that you may be having a generalized abdominal distension.

Abdominal distension may be generalised or may be localised to a discrete mass or enlargement of an organ. The main causes of generalised abdominal distension include - obesity, constipation, pregnancy, bloating (gas) and / or ascites (collection of fluid).

In a young woman, when pregnancy and obesity is ruled out, the most likely cause would be constipation or bloating. Other possible cause would be premenstrual syndrome (excess hormones) induced fluid retention related abdominal distension.

Bloating in most adults occurs due to indigestion, gastric reflux, irregular dietary habits, or ingestion of excess gas while eating.

To relieve your symptoms, you might need to avoid foods that make your symptoms increase. Adopting a healthy dietary practices and a good exercise regimen will also improve your intestinal motility.

Some tips to help your symptoms include:-
1. Reducing intake of hot spicy and Fat rich foods, fried foods, is very important.
2. Try eating a little more slowly. When you eat fast, you swallow extra air with your food. Try to not talk while eating. Extra air while eating can lead to belching and gas production.
3. Eating at the same time each day and eating smaller meals more frequently may be beneficial as well.
4. Try to eat a balanced diet. Foods with high fiber may initially increase gas production. However, the this will decrease over time.
5. It is better not to drink fluids with your food. Drinking fluids with meals can increase your air intake and increase gas.
6. Avoid major gas producing foods like -
- Vegetables: Onions, Celery, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumber, Cabbage,Cauliflower, Radishes , potatoes and eggplant.
- Beans, peas, Green salads, brown rice and leeks
- Fruits like - Raisins, Bananas, Apricots, Prunes, dried fruit
- Carbohydrates rich foods like - Bagels, Wheat Germ, Pretzels, etc.
7. Taking probiotic supplements and activated charcoal tablets (Charcoal, Charcocaps), will help to absorb the excess gas.

If the symptoms are not helped by the above measures, then you may benefit by a consultation with your doctor for a proper medical examination and proper advice. A ultrasound of the abdomen will provide definitive information regarding the cause, and would direct the treatment needed.

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