What causes abdominal pain and bloating?Eating a lot of fatty foods can cause bloating and discomfort because the fat delays stomach emptying, allowing gas to build up. This problem can be avoided by eating less fatty meals.
The feeling of bloating in the abdomen may increase during the day and become most severe after a large meal. Many people think the bloated feeling after eating is caused by large amounts of gas. Researchers, however, have not found any connection between this symptom and the total amount of gas in the abdomen. Studies show that in some people even modest amounts (one ounce to one–half pint) of gas in the intestine can cause spasms, especially after eating.
Gas in the upper abdomen often is relieved by belching. Sometimes people try to swallow air to make themselves belch. This doesn’t work, however, because it only adds to the amount of gas in the stomach and does not reduce the discomfort.
Gas can collect anywhere in the lower intestine. Often it collects on the left side of the colon, and the pain can be confused with heart disease. When gas collects on the right side of the colon, the pain can be like that caused by gallbladder disease or even appendicitis.
A bloated feeling is probably not anything to be concerned about, but it can be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as an intestinal obstruction. If your problem is chronic, or if you are experiencing a severe increase in gassiness, you should talk to your doctor.
Is gassiness caused by a disease?If excess gas is your only symptom, it is probably not caused by a disease. The problem may occur simply because you swallow air or digest food incompletely. It could be that your intestines have the kind of bacteria that produce a lot of gas. You could have a sluggish bowel that does not get rid of air readily. You might have an irritable bowel, often called spastic colon, which means that you cannot tolerate gas accumulation inside of the intestines, so even small amounts of air feel uncomfortable.
Do over–the–counter drugs relieve Gas?Many claims are made for over–the–counter drugs intended to relieve gassiness. Often people find that these drugs do not help much, but some of them do help some people. Simethicone, activated charcoal, and digestive enzymes, such as the lactose supplement lactase, are among those doctors often recommend. Sometimes doctors prescribe a treatment plan to help move gas through the intestines more readily and which may help relieve gassiness in some cases.
Prevention of GasIf you are bothered by excessive belching or flatus, and your physician has determined that you have no serious disease, the following suggestions may be helpful:
- Check with a dentist to make sure dentures fit properly.
- Avoid chewing gum or sucking on hard candies (especially sugarless gum or dietetic candies that contain sorbitol).
- Eliminate carbonated beverages from your diet.
- Avoid milk and milk products if you have lactose intolerance.
- Eat fewer gas–producing foods such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bran, beans, broccoli, and cabbage.
- Walking, jogging, calisthenics, and other exercise help to stimulate the passage of gas through the digestive tract.
- If your symptoms persist or worsen, see your doctor to make sure that the condition is not caused by abnormalities in your digestive tract.