Treatment plans for abdominal distension are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, minimizes the discomfort of abdominal distension and decreases the risk of developing serious complications of underlying causes, such as shortness of breath, shock, sepsis, hemorrhage, anemia and death.
When abdominal distension is caused by a self-limiting condition, such as overeating or indigestion, the treatment includes resting the stomach by not eating solid foods until abdominal distension and other discomfort or symptoms have passed for a period of time.
In some cases, medications are used to treat abdominal distension. Antibiotics may be prescribed when abdominal distension is caused by a bacterial infection, such as in bacterial food poisoning, abdominal abscess or peritonitis. Treatment of abdominal distension that is caused by serious or life-threatening conditions, such as intestinal obstruction, serious food poisoning, abdominal abscess or peritonitis, includes hospitalization, intravenous fluids and medications. Surgery may also be needed to correct intestinal obstruction, to drain an abdominal abscess or to treat some forms of abdominal cancer. Urinary retention due to an enlarged prostate and other conditions is treated by inserting a catheter and draining the bladder.