Postprandial objective abdominal distention is frequently associated with a subjective sensation of abdominal bloating, but the relation between both complaints is unknown. While the bloating sensation has a visceral origin, abdominal distention is a behavioral somatic response, involving contraction and descent of the diaphragm with protrusion of the anterior abdominal wall. Our aim was to determine whether abdominal distention influences digestive sensations. In 16 healthy women we investigated the effect of intentional abdominal distention on experimentally induced bloating sensation (by a meal overload). Participants were first taught to produce diaphragmatic contraction and visible abdominal distention. After a meal overload, sensations of bloating (0 to 10) and digestive well-being (−5 to + 5) were measured during 30-s. maneuvers alternating diaphragmatic contraction and diaphragmatic relaxation. Compared to diaphragmatic relaxation, diaphragmatic contraction was associated with diaphragmatic descent (by 21 + 3 mm; p < 0.001), objective abdominal distension (32 + 5 mm girth increase; p = 0.001), more intense sensation of bloating (7.3 + 0.4 vs. 8.0 + 0.4 score; p = 0.010) and lower digestive well-being (−0.9 + 0.5 vs. −1.9 + 0.5 score; p = 0.028). These results indicate that somatic postural tone underlying abdominal distention worsens the perception of visceral sensations (ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT04691882).
Abdominal distension; Meal ingestion; Postprandial responses
Livovsky DM, Barber C, Barba E, Accarino A, Azpiroz F. Abdominothoracic postural tone influences the sensations induced by meal ingestion. Nutrients. 2021 Feb 18;13(2):658.
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