It doesn’t make a big deal when you are home alone or when you are with your close ones. The inability for some persons to control it when attending to their social or professional duties is what makes it really embarrassing. I am talking about “bloating” or the feeling of fullness due to intestinal gas. Belching and passing a flatus at the wrong time and place can make any person feel embarrassed without any doubts. It is perfectly normal for a person to do this about 20 times a day but, the problem rises when the frequency increases and becomes hard for them to control it. Many patients consult me just because of this complaint and they think that only medication is going to help them. They are unaware of the fact that there are many things which they can do to help themselves.There are many factors which influence the formation of intestinal gas and we will be dealing with those factors in today’s article.
Common Causes of Bloating
The important causes of bloating can be listed as :
- Eating foods that produce excessive gas during digestion.
- Swallowing excess air
- Intestinal diseases like Coeliac disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, Food intolerance.
- Lack of physical exercise
Foods that produce excess gas
Vegetables that are well-known to produce excess gas include : Onions, Cabbage, Broccoli, cauliflower, Beans, Sprouts, Peas.
The fruits that produce gas after their digestion are : Prunes, Apple, Peach,Pear
Potatoes, Oats, Bread, Pastas are some of the daily used food items which can lead to excess gas formation in the guts.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, chocolates can also produce gas upon their digestion in some persons. (Lactose Intolerance)
Others like gums, fizzy drinks like sodas and soft drinks which are already carbonated introduce air directly into our guts.
Adopting healthy eating tips like chewing your food slowly before swallowing, chewing with your mouth closed, and sitting upright and straight while eating can greatly reduce the amount of air ingestion during eating. Talking and eating at the same time should also be avoided.
Air is also swallowed when you drink fizzy sodas and carbonated drinks. Try to avoid them too.
Constipation is the condition when a person experiences difficulty in passing stools. This could be either a decrease in the frequency of passing stools or passing hard formed and lumpy stools. A normal person should pass stools more than 3 times a week. Persons who drink less water every day and those who consume less of fibre containing diet are more prone to get constipated. Constipation can make a person feel bloated. It is important to identify the cause of constipation and treat it to get rid of the discomforts associated with it.
There are many intestinal diseases which have bloating as the main symptom. Coeliac disease is a genetic condition characterised by an autoimmune reaction to a “gluten protein” called gliadin found in certain food items like wheat, barley and rye. There is no specific cure for Coeliac disease and the affected person will have to stick to a “gluten-free” diet lifelong. Other intestinal diseases which can produce a bloated feeling include, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Food Intolerance.
Abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation are some other main symptoms which can occur along with bloating in these diseases.
Some cancers like bowel cancer and ovarian cancer can also produce the bloated feeling along with other symptoms.
Sedentary life style is yet another major reason for developing the bloated feeling. Physical exercises will help to reduce bloating, constipation and improve your overall health.
Do consult your doctor if you feel that certain types of food items are making your bowel and guts symptomatic.
You can try to avoid the gas-producing food items and soft drinks as mentioned above. Adopting the healthy eating tips can reduce the amount of swallowed air. Increasing the fibre content in your diet and changing your lifestyle can also help ease your bloating.
Herbs like ginger, cinnamon, garlic, nutmeg, peppermint have carminative property and can be used at home to reduce bloating sensation.
Probiotics are micro-organisms that are believed to be beneficial to humans when consumed. They include bacterias like Lactobacillus which form part of the normal intestinal flora. They act by helping in the digestion of certain food items that are hard to digest. Examples of naturally occurring probiotics include yoghurt, pickles, buttermilk etc. Over the counter probiotics are also available.
Other over the counter preparations for bloating usually contains simethicon, activated charcoal and enzymes aiding digestion like lactase, alpha galactosidase supplements, carminative preparations.
Bloating is a part of normal digestive process. If you are feeling increasing discomfort due to bloating and it is not getting relieved even after trying all the above mentioned remedies, consider it as the right time to see your doctor.
Image credits :Robert Huffstutter