To a certain degree, feeling bloated, belching, and passing gas are perfectly normal. But, if you experience these issues chronically, they could indicate a problem.
Adam Learner, LAc, at Family Acupuncture and Wellness and his staff understand the discomfort and embarrassment that comes with chronic gas and bloating. We also understand that you may feel as if there’s nothing you can do because gas and bloating are “normal.”
Although it is true that your digestive tract generates gas, chronic gas and bloating are not normal. We can help you understand why you’re having these issues and suggest an effective treatment plan.
Why must there be gas?
First, let’s consider what happens in a normally functioning digestive system. As soon as you take a bite of food, your digestive system starts working. Even as you chew, the saliva in your mouth is preparing the food you’re eating to be broken down into energy your body can use effectively.
When you swallow, some amount of air accompanies your food. That air is why it’s so common to belch or burp during or right after a meal.
Your food passes from your stomach into your intestines where it’s further processed into fuel for your body to use or to waste. Gas is a by-product of this process, and some foods cause more gas than others.
Not all carbohydrates can be fully digested. Your intestines create more gas in breaking those foods down. Beans and legumes, cauliflower, onions, and many other foods cause more gas.
Aside from fiber-rich foods, which are actually quite good for you, there are some other common causes of gas that you can eliminate to find out if your problem is chronic gas caused by an underlying health issue. If you chew gum, you likely swallow more air than you realize, which can lead to bloating and excessive belching or burping.
Drinking carbonated beverages can cause more gas, and if you eat very quickly, try slowing down. Often, eating fast includes swallowing excessive air.
Smoking is associated with gas and bloating, and loose-fitting dentures can be a problem. If you regularly suck on hard candies, it may be causing gas. Sugar-free products that contain sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol can also lead to bloating and gas.
If you’ve tried eliminating the obvious culprits, and you still have gas and bloating, you may have an underlying problem. Some possibilities include:
There are bacteria in your intestines that help with the digestive process. It’s possible for the bacteria to become too abundant, or for one type to overtake others. When you have bacteria overgrowth, bloating and gas can be a symptom.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a group of symptoms and it includes changes to your bowel movements, bloating, excessive gas, cramping, and others. You may also be more sensitive to gas if you have IBS.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Heartburn or chronic indigestion may happen if the opening between your esophagus and stomach doesn’t close properly and allows food and stomach acid to enter your esophagus. The condition is called GERD, and one symptom can be excessive belching.
Sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances
Many people have problems with specific types of foods. For example, people with Celiac disease can’t consume gluten, and those who are lactose intolerant can’t drink milk or eat products derived from milk.
Often, gas and bloating are symptoms of food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances. It can be extremely difficult to determine whether or not you have a problem with certain foods without some guidance.
If you’re uncomfortable due to gas and bloating, schedule an appointment at Family Acupuncture and Wellness. Our team can help you understand why you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms and suggest an effective treatment plan.