Gas problem – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Let’s plan your Sunday – you start your morning with a plate of chole bhature from the popular food stall in your neighbourhood. At brunch, you have some samosas followed by your favourite tea. For lunch, there is a deluxe thali with four of the spiciest, flavourful dishes. By evening, you plan to go for some cheesy Italian pizza with your friends. And at dinner, you are gorging on some rich biryani. What do you have at the end of the day? Probably, a gas problem.
Gas problems are very common in India, a country that is known for its rich flavours. People across all age groups from toddlers to the elderly are prone to be affected by gastric symptoms. Despite its high and very frequent incidence, a large section of people are unaware of management options and how to reduce gastric problems.
In this article, with insights from Gastroenterologist Dr. Amit Javed, we will explore what we need to know about a gas problem, gastric problem symptoms and gastric problem remedies.
Gastric problem: What is it?
A gas problem is a condition that occurs when excess gas in your stomach causes pain. Having gas in your stomach, also known as intestinal gas, is very normal and is considered part of digestion. Intestinal gas is a mix of odourless vapours and usually includes oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, and hydrogen.
It is also normal for your body to relieve excess gas through burping/belching or in the form of flatus (flatulence). Passing gas is a natural process. According to studies, most people pass gas upto 12 times a day. When excess gas gets trapped inside your stomach, it may cause pain, bloating and other gastric symptoms.
What are some common gastric symptoms?
Gastric symptoms are very obvious. However, they are often misinterpreted due to their overlap with other gastrointestinal problems.
Common gastric symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
These symptoms are usually indicative of other gastrointestinal conditions. If you have any of the following signs on top of gas, you may consult your healthcare provider.
Other symptoms include:
- Abdominal tenderness
- Sudden onset of diarrhoea
- Rectal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
What are the causes of gas problem?
Intestinal gas is a natural part of the digestive process. Excess gas, however, results from a range of issues.
Common factors that cause a gas problem are:
- Swallowing air while drinking and chewing
- Consuming gas-producing substances
- Underlying digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and intestinal infections
- Certain medications
Common foods that may increase your chances of developing gas are:
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Low carbohydrate diet
- High sugar levels
- Prune juice
- Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli
- Lactose including foods like milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- Fibre drinks and supplements
Primarily, gas problem causes are identified for two reasons –
You are prone to develop excess gas in your stomach if you lack certain enzymes to help aid the digestion process. Due to these enzymes, the small intestine is not able to absorb all the nutrients in the food and the undigested food gets passed on to the large intestine.
We all naturally swallow air while eating food. However, sometimes, due to our eating habits, we may swallow more than enough air. The said air includes nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. Most people release this air through belching. But sometimes, your intestines may partially absorb some air and cause gas.
How is the gas problem diagnosed?
The gas problem can be easily identified because of its signs and symptoms. However, most gastric problems have a similar set of symptoms. This may cause overlap and cause diagnostic dilemmas.
Your healthcare provider is the right person to identify if you have a gas problem. He/she may order a range of tests and procedures to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor may additionally do some tests to find out the cause of the gas problem in order to provide comprehensive, complete treatment.
Common methods to identify the gas problem are:
- Blood tests
- Hydrogen breath test
- Colon screening through colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Routine tracking of the types of foods consumed
- Gastrointestinal (GI) tract exam (barium swallow)
How is intestinal gas treated?
The first line of treatment for intestinal gas is to offer pain relief. Your healthcare provider will analyse your health and examine your overall condition before offering any treatment.
Based on the findings of your diagnosis, your doctor will devise a personalised treatment plan to relieve symptoms and treat the root cause of the gas problem.
The following treatment protocols are used for a gas problem:
- Treatment of the underlying digestive issue
- Dietary recommendations
- Lifestyle modifications (quitting smoking)
If left untreated, intestinal gas can cause a range of complications. These include chest pain, elevated risk of cardiovascular problems, and increased risk of indigestion issues.
Is it possible to prevent the gas problem?
Yes, it is entirely possible to prevent a gas problem. However, prevention measures are unique for every individual. For instance, your unique food triggers and lifestyle factors will be important to help understand what may be contributing to developing gas and what all can be avoided.
You can practice the following measures to treat gas problems:
- Identify and avoid your triggers
- Chew your food properly
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid consumption of gas-producing foods
- Do not talk while eating food
- Avoid drinking carbonated drinks
- Avoid chewing gums
- Try to drink your beverages through a straw
- Limit your consumption of certain sugars
When should you all a doctor?
Gas problems or the pain caused by intestinal fas can be well managed at home. You may always need immediate clinical help to cope with the pain and discomfort. And applying the above-given measures can also help decrease your chances of developing gas problems every once and a while.
However, if your gas problem is accompanied by the following symptoms, call or visit your doctor as soon as possible.
- Chest pain or other signs of heart attack
- Gastrointestinal discomfort or problems that are not related to eating
- Excessive abdominal pain
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Changes in the colour or appearance of stool (black coloured stool or presence of blood)
- Unexplained weight loss
The concluding note
Gastric issues or more precisely gas problems have become a common piece of information in almost every household with one or even two members experiencing gastric symptoms regularly. However, it is important to manage intestinal gas at the very beginning to avoid its complications.
If you are experiencing the above-given signs and symptoms, you can consult Dr. Amit Javed at the CK Birla Hospital.
Ques 1. Can gastric problems cause shortness of breath?
Some types of gastric problems such as GERD can cause shortness of breath also known as dyspnea.
Ques 2. Which yoga is best for gastric problems?
There is a range of yoga asanas and sets that are considered great for gastric problems. These include paschimottasana, balasana, pavanamuktasana, trikonasana and ardha matsyendrasana.
Ques 3. Can turmeric cause gastric problems?
While turmeric is not known to cause gastric problems, some people might experience bloating, nausea, upset stomach and dizziness because of it.
Ques 4. Can hormonal imbalance cause gastric problems?
Yes, your hormones have a considerable impact on your gastric system. A hormonal imbalance can help affect the functioning of your gastric organs.
Ques 5. Can gastric problems cause headaches?
Yes, some gastric problems or gut disorders can cause headaches.
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