Where does that gassy feeling come from? Here are some thoughts to consider when you experience that gassy feeling! Notice where the gassy feeling is presenting itself. Excess upper intestinal gas can result from swallowing more than a usual amount of air, overeating, smoking or chewing gum. If gas is felt in the lower belly it might be caused by eating too much of certain foods, by the inability to fully digest certain foods or by a disruption in the bacteria normally found in the colon.
Foods that cause gas in one person might not cause it in another. Common gas-producing foods and substances include:
- Beans and lentils
- Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and brussels sprouts (cruciferous vegetables)
- Dairy products containing lactose
- Fructose, which is found in some fruits and used as a sweetener in soft drinks and other products
- Sorbitol, a sugar substitute found in some sugar-free candies, gums, and artificial sweeteners
- Carbonated beverages, such as soda or beer
Digestive disorders that cause excess gas
Excessive intestinal gas such as belching or flatulence on a regular basis may indicate a disorder such as:
- Autoimmune pancreatitis
Autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) is a chronic inflammation that is thought to be caused by the body’s immune system attacking the pancreas and that responds to steroid therapy. Two subtypes of AIP are now recognized, type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 AIP is the pancreatic manifestation of a disease called IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD). This disease often affects multiple organs including the pancreas, bile ducts in the liver, salivary glands, kidneys, and lymph nodes. Type 1 AIP can be mistakenly diagnosed as pancreatic cancer. The two conditions have overlapping signs and symptoms, but very different treatments, so it is very important to distinguish one from the other.
Type 2 AIP seems to affect only the pancreas, although about one-third of people with type 2 AIP have associated inflammatory bowel disease.
- Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease(a type of inflammatory bowel disease)
Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine’s lining and prevents it from absorbing some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications. In children, malabsorption can affect growth and development, besides causing the symptoms seen in adults. There’s no cure for celiac disease — but for most people, following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.
Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes and gestational diabetes. Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. And prediabetes is often the precursor of diabetes unless appropriate measures are taken to prevent progression. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered.
- Dumping syndrome
Dumping syndrome is a condition that can develop after surgery to remove all or part of your stomach or after surgery to bypass your stomach to help with weight loss. The condition can also develop in people who have had esophageal surgery. Also called rapid gastric emptying, dumping syndrome occurs when food, especially sugar, moves from your stomach into your small bowel too quickly.
Most people with dumping syndrome develop signs and symptoms, such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea, ten to thirty minutes after eating. Other people have symptoms one to three hours after eating, and still, others have both early and late symptoms. Generally, you can help prevent dumping syndrome by changing your diet after surgery. Changes might include eating smaller meals and limiting high-sugar foods. In more serious cases of dumping syndrome, you may need medications or surgery.
- Eating disorders
Eating disorders are serious conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, your emotions and your ability to function in important areas of life. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.
Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on your weight, body shape and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviors. These behaviors can significantly impact your body’s ability to get appropriate nutrition. Eating disorders can harm the heart, digestive system, bones, and teeth and mouth, and lead to other diseases.
Eating disorders often develop in the teen and young adult years, although they can develop at other ages. With treatment, you can return to healthier eating habits and sometimes reverse serious complications caused by the eating disorder.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people experience acid reflux from time to time. GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week.
Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.
- Gastroparesis (a condition in which the muscles of the stomach wall don’t function properly, interfering with digestion)
Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal spontaneous movement of the muscles (motility) in your stomach. Ordinarily, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. But if you have gastroparesis, your stomach’s motility is slowed down or doesn’t work at all, preventing your stomach from emptying properly.
The cause of gastroparesis is usually unknown. Sometimes it’s a complication of diabetes, and some people develop gastroparesis after surgery. Certain medications, such as opioid pain relievers, some antidepressants, and high blood pressure and allergy medications, can lead to slow gastric emptying and cause similar symptoms. For people who already have gastroparesis, these medications may make their condition worse.
Gastroparesis can interfere with normal digestion, cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. It can also cause problems with blood sugar levels and nutrition. Although there’s no cure for gastroparesis, changes to your diet, along with medication, can offer some relief.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Some types of IBD include:
- Ulcerative colitis. This condition involves inflammation and sores (ulcers) along the superficial lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.
- Crohn’s disease. This type of IBD is characterized by inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which often can involve the deeper layers of the digestive tract.
Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease usually are characterized by diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications.
- Intestinal obstruction
Intestinal obstruction is a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through your small intestine or large intestine (colon). Causes of intestinal obstruction may include fibrous bands of tissue (adhesions) in the abdomen that form after surgery; hernias; colon cancer; certain medications; or strictures from an inflamed intestine caused by certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. Without treatment, the blocked parts of the intestine can die, leading to serious problems. However, with prompt medical care, intestinal obstruction often can be successfully treated.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that you’ll need to manage long term.
Only a small number of people with IBS have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. More severe symptoms can be treated with medication and counseling. IBS doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
- Lactose intolerance
People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. As a result, they have diarrhea, gas and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products. The condition, which is also called lactose malabsorption, is usually harmless, but its symptoms can be uncomfortable.
Too little of an enzyme produced in your small intestine (lactase) is usually responsible for lactose intolerance. You can have low levels of lactase and still be able to digest milk products. But if your levels are too low you become lactose intolerant, leading to symptoms after you eat or drink dairy. Most people with lactose intolerance can manage the condition without having to give up all dairy foods.
- Peptic ulcer
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain.
Peptic ulcers include:
- Gastric ulcers that occur on the inside of the stomach
- Duodenal ulcers that occur on the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum)
The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, they can make your symptoms worse.
- Ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. While it has no known cure, treatment can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease and bring about long-term remission.
These are some of the causes that are commonly associated with gassy symptoms. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis. In the meantime, digestive enzymes may help to alleviate some of these symptoms.
Health Studio Labs and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Health Studio Labs is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.