“I have COPD, why is my stomach always bloated?”

I was asked this question in a wonderful Facebook group, and I would like to share it with our audience too.  This is an excellent question!

Let’s jump right in. We get asked this question in our Pulmonary Rehab office quite frequently, so please know that you are not alone. There is not one simple answer to this question so I have broken it up into 4 parts.

Some of the reasons could be:

1. Swallowing air in general, simply due to shortness of breath.  Shortness of breath leads to increased number of breaths that you take per minute (your respiratory rate) which may make you swallow lots of air throughout the day.

2. Swallowing air during eating. You’re already short of breath and now you’re trying to eat, you may be unknowingly gulping air along with the food.

3. Eating gassy foods that over expand your stomach.

4. Last but certainly not least, air trapping from COPD leading to flattened diaphragms pushing down on the top of your stomach causing the front of your stomach to stick out and feel bloated.

I found this picture on the web to help you visualize what’s happening:

This the same thing that happens when you bend over to tie your shoes but in reverse order. You bend over, your belly pushes in and up on your diaphragms and squeezes your lungs smaller, making it harder to breathe.

What tips can help lessen the bloating?

  • Smaller, more frequent food portions is one of the best ways to help with this
  • Slow down and take your time when you eat
  • Avoid foods that make you gassy, which will cause excessive expansion of the stomach

What foods to try and avoid:

  • Carbonated beverages
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts etc.)

I hoped you found my explanation easy to understand as well as helpful. Please try these tips and see if it reduces your COPD stomach bloat. Lastly, if you have any concerns please discuss them with your Doctor.

Have a great day!

About the author:

David Junga, RRT is a Nationally Board Certified Registered Respiratory Therapist and Program Director at Pulmonary Rehabilitation Associates, LLC and PulmonaryRehab.com. David has been in private practice since 1999 and loves teaching patients how to overcome their shortness of breath.

David is also a Postural Alignment Specialist certified by the Egoscue University and Program Director at CtPainFree. His other passion is teaching people how to eliminate chronic pain through simple yet powerful corrective exercises.