Causes of Abdominal Distension (6F’s Mnemonic)

Causes of Abdominal Distension Mnemonic

Welcome to the bizarre world of medicine, where everything can be reduced to medical mnemonics and acronyms. 😀 In this article, we’ll be talking about one of the most beloved (and hilarious) mnemonics of all time: the 6F’s of abdominal distension. If you’re not familiar with this memory aid, buckle up and get ready for a roller coaster ride of laughter! 😀

It hurts when you're cheat days lead to this... :'(

First things first: what is abdominal distension? Essentially, it’s when your abdomen swells up like a giant balloon. This can be caused by a number of things, from simple bloating (flatulence) to serious medical conditions that warrant urgent medical intervention.

Causes of abdominal distension

Here are some of the potential causes of abdominal distension that may not fit into the 6F’s mnemonic include, just so that you know:

  • Ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen due to liver disease or other conditions)
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), > Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ovarian cysts or tumors
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pancreatic disorders

So, how do we remember these causes? With the 6F’s mnemonic for abdominal swelling, of course! Let’s dive in: 🙂

Causes of Abdominal Distension Mnemonic

Here’s the 6F’s mnemonic for causes of abdominal distension, hopefully, this will help you memorize the causes more efficiently: 🙂

  1. Fat

Big belly couple

Ah, yes. The first F. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. If you’ve been indulging in too much binge eating and junk food, your waistline might start to expand. This can lead you to be looking like you’re pregnant with a food baby. Sorry, not sorry. 😀

2. Fluid

Photo courtesy: The Sun

Another super easy one. If an individual is retaining water in their belly, there might be noticeable distention in their abdomen. There are a number of causes, including heart (right-sided heart failure) or liver disease (chronic liver disease), kidney problems (CKD or Nephrotic syndrome), or even just eating too much salty food (rarely).

3. Feces


Yup, we’re going there too! 😀 If you’re constipated, your poop can build up in your intestines and cause your abdomen to expand and appear distended. This can be uncomfortable, painful, embarrassing, and downright hilarious (if you’re a fan of toilet humor). HAHA! 😀

4. Flatus

Explosive Flatus

AKA too much gas. We all know what this means. And, by chance, if you’ve ever had a gassy day, you know how uncomfortable it can be to have all that air trapped in your intestines. But hey, at least it’s not as bad as feces, right?

Tip: Patient not able to pass flatus = absolute intestinal obstruction > it requires urgent medical intervention.

5. Fetus

Photo: Smiling and yawning baby with KANET test

Okay, things are getting serious here now. If by any chance you’re pregnant, your abdomen will obviously start to expand as your baby grows. But even if you’re not pregnant, you might experience a false pregnancy (AKA pseudocyesis), which can cause abdominal distension. And let’s be real here, any such condition would be both hilarious and very much terrifying! 😀

6. Fatal Mass

Fetal abdominal mass
Photo: MRI of the abdomen showing a fatal abdominal mass

And finally, we have arrived at the last F of abdominal distention. This is where things get really worrisome. Abdominal distension can be caused by tumors, cysts, or other types of abdominal masses. While we’re all about cracking jokes here, we want to emphasize that this is not a laughing matter. 🙁

So there you have it, folks. 🙂 The 6F’s of abdominal distension mnemonic. We hope you found this both informative, funny, and amusing. Below is everything in a nutshell:

Causes of abdominal distention mnemonic

Happy learning! 🙂



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