Water retention does not occur in the stomach itself, which is a sac high up just under your ribs, where food collects and is mixed with acid to begin digestion. However water retention can occur lower down, in the abdomen or belly, where it is sometimes described as ‘bloating’. Mild bloating is very common and usually due to digestive problems or premenstrual syndrome. Severe bloating may be due to water retention or to inflammation in your digestive system. Occasionally it can be caused by liver disease, heart disease, or severe protein deficiency.
1. Liver disease
Liver damage such as caused by alcohol abuse can lead to blood pressure problems in your abdomen, which forces water out of your blood vessels and into your abdominal cavity – the space around your abdominal organs.
2. Heart disease
Heart failure (a chronic condition where the heart gradually loses its pumping force) can also cause abdominal water retention. Because the kidneys are not stimulated to work properly, people with heart failure tend to collect severe water retention all over their body, especially in the legs and ankles.
3. Severe protein deficiency
Children in developing countries who do not get enough to eat often suffer from severe water retention in the abdomen. This is caused by not getting enough protein and is visible as a large swelling – as big as pregnancy. People in the west who eat very low calorie diets for a long time and do not pay proper attention to getting enough protein may suffer from a mild version of this problem.
These three conditions can cause large amounts of water to collect in your abdomen and in severe cases you can actually feel it swishing around. If this is your problem you must get medical treatment immediately. If you have liver damage due to alcohol abuse it is essential that you stop drinking straight away.
If your doctor has given you the all-clear and does not know what is causing the bloating or water retention in your tummy area, then the cause is probably
- Hormonal if you are a woman and if the swelling only occurs before your monthly period, or
- Digestive if the swelling is accompanied by gas. Poor digestion or a bacterial imbalance can make your digestive system swollen and inflamed. Some people get this problem after eating certain foods.
The Waterfall Diet book can be very useful to help you find out why you have this type of problem. If you think it may be water retention you can read more here.