Gas and Bloating
Gas and Bloating
|Causes||Food Reactions, Infections, Prescription Medications|
|See Also||Digestive Conditions, Constipation, GERD, Dysbiosis, Lactose Intolerance, Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn's Disease, Peptic Ulcer Disease|
|Books||Books on Digestive and Liver Conditions|
|Articles||Articles on Digestive Conditions|
Gas and bloating are common problems experienced by many. Gas is created in the stomach and intestines as food is being broken down and digested. Bloating describes a sensation of fullness in the stomach. The severity tends to worsen throughout the day and improve overnight.
In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With Gas and bloating, the causes are variable with dietary factors and infections being the most prominent. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to Gas/Bloating.
- Dietary factors that result in gas or bloating include:
- Eating Too Quickly
- When eating quickly you can swallow air and trap gas in the body which can result in bloating and/or flatulence.
- Infections that affect the digestive system often result in gas and bloating.
- Prescription Medications
- Prescription medications such as antibiotics often result in gas and feelings of being bloated.
- The diabetes medication acarbose, as well as any medicine containing lactulose or sorbitol, may cause bloating.
- Medical Treatments
- Internal scar tissue or adhesions can also cause bloating
The diagnosis of gas and bloating is made based on a person's symptoms. Further testing may be required to rule out other conditions if the gas and bloating is chronic or severe or if it does not resolve with dietary changes.
- Imaging Studies such as Abdominal CT scan, Abdominal ultrasound, Barium enema x-ray, Barium swallow x-ray, Sigmoidoscopy, Upper endoscopy (EGD)
Related Symptoms and Conditions
Gas and Bloating are common symptoms associated with the following conditions:
- Food Allergies
- Food Sensitivities
- Lactose Intolerance
- Celiac Disease
- Dumping Syndrome
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Crohn's Disease
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
- Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Ascites and tumors
- Colorectal Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
Gas is either referred to as belching or flatulence.
- Belching is the act of bringing up air from the stomach. It produces a characteristic sound. The purpose of belching is to release air from the stomach. Every time you swallow, you also swallow air, along with fluid or food. As the air builds up in the upper stomach, it causes stretching of the stomach that triggers the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to relax. This lets air escape up the esophagus and out the mouth. Excessive or repeated belching may be caused by unconsciously swallowing air (aerophagia).
- Flatulence or flatus is gas in the intestine that is passed through the rectum. Gas is normally produced in the intestines as your body digests food. As the gas builds up it may result in other symptoms such as bloating or abdominal discomfort. The normal response of the body is to release the gas which often occurs while having a bowel movement or with movement.
Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the belly (abdomen) feels full and tight. Your belly may look swollen (distended).
Call you naturopathic or medical doctor if your symptoms don't resolve or if you experience any of the following:
- Acute or severe abdominal pain
- Blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking stools
- Weight loss
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Gas and bloating can reflect both acute and chronic disease states. The ideal treatment strategy typically involves treating the other underlying conditions that have gas and bloating as a symptom. Some specific strategies that may help are noted below.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Home Care strategies include:
- Massaging the abdomen from the lower right side to the lower left side in a upside down U formation can often help with the expulsion of gas. This type of abdominal massage follows the track of the large intestine and can assist in moving things along.
- You can sometimes get relief from gas by lying on your side or in a knee-to-chest position until the gas passes.
- Eating Regimen
- Eat slowly and ensure that you chew your food thoroughly.
- Eat while relaxed and while focused primarily on eating.
- Stopping smoking can often decrease the severity and frequency of the gas or bloating symptoms.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- Avoid known food allergies and food sensitivities
- Avoid any food, chewing gum or drinks with the food additives fructose or sorbitol.
- Avoid carbonated drinks
- Avoid any foods that are known to cause your gas or bloating such as brussels sprouts, turnips, cabbage, beans, and lentils
- Ensure you drink adequate water, but avoid drinking water while eating.
- Regular movement, such as walking or swimming, can decrease the severity and frequency of gas and bloating.
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
Naturopathic Therapies for Gas and Bloating include:
- Clinical Nutritional Supplementation includes
- Herbs such as Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Gentiana (Gentiana lutea), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Golden Rod (Solidago virgaurea), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Olive (Olea europaea), Peppermint (Mentha piperita),
- Acupuncture can be effective in restoring proper bowel function.
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
- Hershoff Asa 2000 Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
- Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth 1997, Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing