Women with pain

Abdominal Swelling


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is abdominal swelling?

Abdominal swelling is any bloating, distention or enlargement of the area between the chest and the groin. Commonly referred to as the “belly,” the abdomen consists of many organs, including the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and numerous blood vessels.

Abdominal swelling is a common symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions, such as gallstones, overeating, food poisoning, pancreatitis, liver disease, and pregnancy. Abdominal swelling may be generalized, occurring throughout the abdomen, or it may be present in a small area of the belly, called an abdominal mass.

Looking for a Doctor?

Find a 5-Star Gastroenterologist Near You

Depending on the cause, abdominal swelling can last briefly, such as after a single episode of overeating. Abdominal swelling can also occur over a longer period of time, such as when it is due to obesity or ascites.

Abdominal swelling can range in severity from mild bloating to extreme abdominal distention that can interfere with breathing and other bodily processes and functions. Abdominal swelling that is associated with dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, or yellowing of the skin (jaundice), can be a symptom of a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these symptoms.