Gas & Bloating
Bill Gates would borrow money from the person who ever solves the elusive problem of gas and bloating. People will line up for blocks if the gas problem is solved! While admittedly there is no solution, there are some valuable tools available to ease the problem and the anxiety that goes with the problem.
Intestinal gas is best explained by dividing the subject into upper intestinal gas and lower intestinal gas.
Upper intestinal gas consists primarily of swallowed air. Air collection in the stomach is usually burped with small amounts of air being absorbed in the small intestine. Children may intentionally swallow air attempting to impress with a big burp.
Unintentional swallowing of air can occur by
- Gulping solids or liquids
- Chewing gum
- Drinking carbonated beverages
Air swallowing can be a nervous habit unrecognized by the sufferer. Some patients unconsciously swallow air then release the air from the esophagus.
Lower intestinal gas is produced normally by the fermentation of undigested complex sugars. Healthy bacteria in your colon break down foods you eat, but create unpleasant odors, larger amounts of gas and loose stool.
Some people have difficulty digesting certain foods which contribute to the gas problem. The most common offenders are:
- Lactose, a sugar found in milk products
- Legumes; peas, beans, lentils & peanuts
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole grain flour
- Fruits: apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, mangoes, cherries, plums, prunes and avocado
- artificial sweeteners; watch for hidden sweeteners in chewing gum, mints, diabetic products
- high fructose corn syrup
Intestinal gas is often blamed for bloating and swelling of the abdomen. A few individuals will actually distend the abdomen with air by swallowing air. However, most bloating is not associated with excessive amounts of air in the gut. Usually bloating is attributed to eating too much, or eating foods to which you are sensitive.
Gas & bloating by themselves are no cause for alarm. You should pay attention to other symptoms that accompany gas and bloating such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood in your stool, weight loss, lack of appetite, fever, or vomiting. These symptoms might warrant a need for further testing.
Some diseases or disorders cause excessive bloating and gas.
- Malabsorbtion, a rare disorder, results in large amounts of undigested fats or sugars entering the bacteria rich environment of the colon.
- Diabetes or scleroderma may cause a slowing of digestion, leading to a bacteria overgrowth and gas symptoms
- Celiac disease
- Short bowel syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
There are several measures you can take to reduce gas and bloating
- Keep a food diary to find out which foods bother you most.
- Avoid foods that aggravate your symptoms
- Choose foods that are low-fat and contain only soluble fiber
- Chew food thoroughly before swallowing
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Take probiotics to improve your digestive environment
If carbohydrates or lactose are problem foods, there are measures you can take to alleviate your symptoms.
- A low FODMAP diet may help you identify and eliminate offending foods that are bothersome.
- If lactose, the sugars found is a problem.
MEDICATIONS Several medications are available over the counter to alleviate your symptoms
- Simethicone helps by breaking up gas bubbles in your stomach, reducing gas. Maalox, Mylanta gas, Gas-X and Phazyme are common brand names.
- Lactase supplements, like Lactaid are enzymes that break down lactose, the sugar in milk products.
- Alpha-galactosidase, found in products like Beano and similar generics, helps to break down certain complex carbohydrates. This treatment may be effective in reducing gas after eating beans or some vegetables.
Some patients report that activated charcoal or peppermint tea help reduce their gas.
If you have any symptoms which have you concerned, our office can help. Call (706) 868-0104 for more information.
The content on our website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding your health.