Categorized | Lactose in the News

Passing gas: Is it normal or a symptom of dangerous bloating? – SFGate



Published 2: 02 pm, Wed, March 18, 2015

One of my children’s favorite books is “The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts. ” My kids laugh as they learn about their bodies, but as adults we regularly know little about our day-to-day bodily function and question what is normal or abnormal.

For example , how many individuals know a healthy individual passes gas on average 14 times per day, generally after meals? The gas we pass is a mixture of the air we swallow and our gut bacterial fermentation of the food we eat.

Bloating is caused by increased gas manufacturing or when gas is caught in the intestines. It is experienced by up to 20 percent of healthy people in the United States and is a nonspecific symptom of several disorders. Excess gas manufacturing is one, but abnormal sensation associated with normal amounts of gas within the digestive tract, altered movements of the intestinal muscle tissues, or abnormal abdominal wall exercise are others.

Depending on other related symptoms, the cause of bloating can be as benign as intolerance to carbohydrates in order to more serious disorders such as celiac illness or gastroparesis, in which the stomach muscles never function normally.

One common and popular form of carbohydrate maldigestion is lactic intolerance, caused when an individual does not have enough of the enzyme lactase to break lactose into absorbable form.

Excess gas might also be produced when the digestive tract system is overwhelmed by too many carbs. For instance, symptoms may develop after 37. 5 grams of carbs, the equivalent of a 12-ounce serving associated with either pumpkin spiced latte or apple juice, are ingested. Sorbitol, a typical artificial sweetener, is also known to trigger gas with as little as 5 grams, the equivalent of chewing three or four pieces of sugar-free gum.

When bloating occurs, you should always consider the possibility of a dangerous blockage. A surgical procedure such as fundoplication to treat gastroesophageal reflux can cause gas/bloat symptoms in 73 percent of patients. Dysmotility syndromes like gastroparesis usually trigger a sense of bloating or a feeling of fullness. Gastroparesis is connected to a number of physiological problems like diabetes, hypothyroidism, scleroderma and medications like opiates.

Another disease where bloating is a common is irritable bowel syndrome, which affects between 10 and 15 percent of the human population. It is diagnosed by symptoms, not by a particular test.

Bloating could be managed with simple lifestyle and dietary changes or, in other instances, prescription medication. Food that causes significant gas should be avoided. These may include dairy, onions, beans, cauliflower, wheat, pears and dried fruits.

Over-the-counter medicine may help with bloating. Simethicone can help rupture gas bubbles, bismuth can reduce fermentation and probiotics can modify intestinal bacteria. Antibiotics might be ideal for an overgrowth of intestinal germs. Those who lack enzymes may need alternative therapy.

Medications that modulate gut motor function can be useful in individuals with bloating caused by intestinal or gastric dysmotility. Finally, those with irritable bowel symdrome may use medication to minimize the heightened sensitivity to gas, to reduce constipation, or sometimes both. The particular medications can include linaclotide, lubiprostone and antidepressants.

“The Gas We Pass” might be a simple book, but bloating and gas is much more complex than it appears, a testament to the amazing complexity of our human body. Your doctor can help guide you to understand possible causes, tests and treatments.

Dr . Mimi S. Lin is a gastroenterologist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation. The girl practices at California Pacific Clinic, San Francisco.

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