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INTESTINAL GAS (Stomach Gas) 

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Dr. Minocha  is a practicing gastroenterologist and author of "Natural Stomach Care: Treating and Preventing Digestive Disorders with Best of Eastern and Western Therapies"


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As many as 10 to 20 percent of the people complain of bloating and gassiness, which they attribute to excessive intestinal gas. Many do not even mention it to their physician for fear of embarrassment. So you may have one or more of the digestive complaints like flatulence, increased intestinal gas, bloating etc. You might think that gassiness and bloating are warning signs that there is something wrong with you and your digestion. Not true.

The commonest causes of tummy gas are: swallowing air while eating a meal; eating too fast and bacterial fermentation of food. The composition of belched gas is similar to that of air. The gas passed as flatus is a result of bacterial fermentation. Well, our intestines can not digest everything we eat. Some leftovers are passed on to the colon. The colon is full of bacteria, yeasts and fungi. These bugs perform a remarkable task: they take care of the food particles that have not been digested. These colonic bacteria love leftover food particles-- especially unabsorbed carbohydrates. The processing or fermentation of leftover carbohydrates by the colonic bacteria leads to formation and being a major source of gas in your tummy.

 

Composition of flatus varies among different people. Not all gases expelled in flatus are foul smelling!  Many people feel that they pass too much gas. Well, socially, any passage of gas is bad! Actually, there may not be any difference in amount of gas produced in complainers versus non-complainers. Just that, some folks are more sensitive and feel it more than others do. Just imagine, an average male passes gas 14 times per day. On rare occasions, patients may pass gas as many as 50-100 times per day. Elderly seem to pass more of it. Actually, the total volume of gas may be same as younger population, they just pass smaller amounts because their rectum cannot hold it as it used to be in younger days.

 

There are no good, easy tests to asses complaints of  excessive intestinal gas  and intestinal gas pain by patients. Routine blood tests, x-rays as well as upper and lower scope do not help in diagnosis of complaints of intestinal gas.  While doctors try a few measures, and some over the counter drugs (simethicone or Beano) to take care of the gas problems, there are no good and effective drugs to take care of the problem.  Avoid legumes, apples, prunes, raisins, etc. Baked beans, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, Mexican foods are notorious. Are you chewing a lot of gum?  Sugarless gum with the sweetener sorbitol causes gas. Carbonated beverages are full of gas. Medicine like narcotics, calcium channel blockers slows the gut and may cause stomach gas being trapped in the bowel for prolonged periods because of slow movements.

 

 

 Overall, there are very few good studies on this topic, because gas/flatus is difficult to study and plus, there are no takers! The most famous investigator in this field, Doctor Michael Levitt of Minnesota proudly carries the label of "King of Fart", a royalty without subject!

 


This article covering  intestinal gas; flatulence;  gas bloating stomach problems and pain etc. is meant to be an informational exercise and NOT a medical consultation
Your doctor is the only one who can best assess your situation and offer you medical advice


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