Gas, Bloating, and Burping
Bloating, burping, and farting are normal functions of the digestive system. However, when these start interfering your daily activities or quality of life, there may be something wrong. Gas is normally made in your intestines as the food breaks down during digestion.
Bloating is typically associated with a feeling of fullness due to food accumulation in the stomach. People often feel relieved when they belch, fart or release gas either through mouth or anus. But too much gas is a sign of trouble.
Burping or belching is a term used for the release of gas from abdomen or esophagus through the mouth. It is a normal condition that results from swallowed air in the stomach.
Causes of Gas
- Swallowed air: Swallowed air is released through anus if it is not burped up. Excessive air swallowing can cause hiccups, bloating, belching, and flatulence.
- Constipation: Constipation can create a feeling of fullness in the abdomen or bloating. However, it is not associated with a feeling of increased gas.
- Foods and beverages: Some foods are acidic and cause gas. Enzymes in the small intestine cannot digest certain carbohydrates, which are then transferred to the colon. In the colon, these carbs are metabolized to hydrogen and carbon dioxide gasses by the bacteria present there. Such foods include broccoli, cabbage, bran, beans, and cauliflower. Drinking soda drinks and carbonated beverages can increase gas in the body. Such foods and beverages may cause increased gas in some people and less or zero gas in others.
- Lactose intolerance: Some people are intolerant to lactose, found in milk and dairy products. Such people lack the enzyme lactase, which helps in the absorption of dairy products. As a result, consumption of dairy foods can cause them both gas and bloating.
- Health condition: Some medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease and bowel obstruction, are associated with gas and bloating. Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines can cause production of excess gas, causing bloating, belching, and flatulence.
- Prescription medications or dietary supplements: Some prescription medicines and nutritional supplements can cause gas and bloating. The malabsorption or maldigestion of polysaccharides and certain sugars can result in excessive production of gas.
- Hormonal changes: A majority of women experience bloating before and during their menstruation cycle, as their bodies retain fluid.
The doctor may ask you some questions to know about your medical history or perform ultrasound, simple abdominal X-rays, malabsorption tests, magnetic resonance imaging, computerized tomography (CT), and hydrogen breath tests.
Excessive gas can be a cause for concern. It may help to change your food and dietary habits. The treatment of gas and related ailments depends on the underlying cause. The doctor may advise certain exercises and medications to stimulate small intestinal muscles for better food absorption.