Excessive Gas? Here are 5 Ways It Could Be A Problem
All of us suffer from gas every now and then. It rarely necessitates much attention given it is most often just a temporary digestive health issue. We usually pop an antacid and wait for it to pass. But if you have been suffering from excessive gas for many days at a stretch, there could be another issue at hand. This is especially true if diet and lifestyle changes have proved futile in solving the problem.
Can it signify a more serious health condition?
Excessive gas can be the result of harmless habits such as swallowing air, and consuming gassy foods and drinks, amongst others. Passing gas up to 20-23 times a day is considered normal. Unless coupled with serious symptoms, such as blood in stools, weight loss, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, or a family history of digestive health issues, gas should not be anything to worry about.
Having said that, excessive gas, when it persists for days without relief, can mean there is an underlying health ailment. Here are a few ailments that can cause excessive gas. However, always remember to consult your doctor about these before you arrive at any conclusions.
Problems with digesting certain foodsAn inability to digest certain food types, such as carbohydrates, can lead to problems with gas and bloating. Such an intolerance can present in multiple ways for different foods or food groups. For instance, you could have lactose intolerance or an intolerance for milk and milk products. You could have dietary fructose intolerance, or intolerance for foods rich in fructose such as juices, candy, and soda. Or you could have celiac disease, an immune disorder wherein you develop an intolerance for gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)IBS is an ailment that causes stomach pain and trouble with bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation). It is also known to cause excessive gas and bloating in individuals. It can be triggered by certain foods, medicines, and emotional stress. Individuals with IBS often report that symptoms tend to worsen at times or disappear altogether. These symptoms, when not too severe, can be treated with changes in one’s lifestyle and diet. However, when severe, symptoms require medical assistance for treatment.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD is a chronic condition that occurs when your food flows back up into your oesophagus post-ingestion. This could result in a burning sensation in the chest (acid reflux/heartburn), regurgitation of food or stomach acids, or a sensation of having a lump in your throat. Deep fried foods, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol can often trigger GERD. Obesity and pregnancy can also cause and aggravate symptoms.
Bacterial Overgrowth in the Small Intestines
A sudden increase in the number of bacteria or a change in the type of bacteria in your small intestines can impact your stomach health. Bacteria can produce extra gas causing you to feel extremely gassy. They may also cause diarrhoea and weight loss. Such overgrowth of bacteria is most often a complication of other medical conditions, however.
Other Stomach ConditionsExcessive gas can also be a sign of stomach conditions such as dumping syndrome (a sickness that causes food to pass through the digestive tract too quickly), abdominal adhesions, hernias or tumors, or conditions that cause intestinal obstruction such as colon cancer or ovarian cancer. It could also be a symptom of kidney stones, gallstones, an inflamed gallbladder, peptic ulcer disease or Crohn's disease. However, these stomach conditions will always present with other symptoms along with excessive gas.
Although not usually a sign of serious illness, excessive gas can be a warning sign of an underlying medical issue. It is thus advisable to consult your doctor if it persists for too long.
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