Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why Am I So Bloated and Gassy? [Answered By a Gastroenterologist]

Published By: Dr. Jeffrey Mark
Date: December 14, 2023

Experiencing persistent bloating and excessive gas can be uncomfortable and concerning.

In this comprehensive blog, we'll explore common reasons behind bloating and gas, from dietary choices to underlying medical conditions.

With expert insights, practical tips, and references to support, you'll gain valuable knowledge to address and alleviate bloating and gas effectively.

Key Points:

There are many causes of gas and bloating including foods that contain high fiber, fermentable foods like beans, and commonly intolerant foods like dairy.

Lifestyle changes such as taking time to chew, not overeating, and regular exercise can help. You should be aware of functional bowel, inflammatory bowel, or mechanical obstruction requiring medical attention.

Why Am I So Bloated and Gassy? Unveiling the Causes and Solutions

Bloating and excessive gas can turn even the simplest moments into uncomfortable experiences.

Whether it's a:

  • Social gathering
  • A work meeting, or
  • A quiet evening at home.

Persistent bloating and gas can be bothersome and affect your overall well-being.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the common reasons behind bloating and gas, exploring both lifestyle factors and potential underlying medical conditions.

With expert insights, practical tips, and references to support, you'll gain a deeper understanding of why you might be feeling gassy and bloated and discover effective solutions to bring relief.

Understanding Bloating and Gas

Before we explore the causes, let's briefly understand what makes you feel bloated and cause gas and why they occur.

Bloating refers to a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, often accompanied by visible swelling. It can be caused by an accumulation of gas, fluid, or solids in the digestive system. The symptoms may come and go.

The gas may be produced by partially digested fermenting food, overgrowth in bacteria, or gas-producing foods.

Excessive gas, on the other hand, is the result of the body producing more gas than it can efficiently expel. This can lead to belching, flatulence, and discomfort. Gastrointestinal motility from the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and large intestine may contribute to the gas buildup.

Common Causes of Bloating and Gas

1. Dietary Choices:

Dietary Choices

  • High-Fiber Foods: While fiber is essential for digestive health, eating too much too quickly can lead to gas and bloating. The most recent studies recommend up to 45 grams of fiber a day.
    The best way to get 45 grams of fiber is to increase fiber very slowly so that the proper bacteria can increase to break down the fiber without releasing a lot of gas.
  • Gas-Producing Foods: Certain foods, such as beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and carbonated drinks, are known to produce gas during digestion.
    If you are unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes due to medications like acid suppressants blocking the first step in the usual cascade of enzymes, gas may be produced by bacteria breaking down the partially digested foods.

2. Eating Habits:

  • Eating Too Quickly: Swallowing air while eating quickly can contribute to bloating. There is less mechanical breakdown from chewing and the amylase in saliva does not get much chance to work.
  • Overeating: Consuming large meals can overwhelm the digestive system, leading to bloating. Overeating more fatty foods in particular, cause the stomach to empty even more slowly as fats take longer to digest.

3. Digestive Conditions:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A common digestive disorder (indigestion) that can cause bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits.
    In one subtype, IBS-D, bowel movements are loose. In IBS-C, constipation is experienced along with the bloating discomfort. One of the most common subtypes is alternating diarrhea and constipation.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can lead to chronic inflammation, causing bloating and gas. Gut lining integrity, motility, and bacteria may be altered.

4. Food Intolerances:

Food Intolerances

  • Lactose Intolerance: Inability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk and dairy products, can result in bloating and gas. There is also a milk protein called beta-casein that can lead to food sensitivity or an allergic reaction.
  • Fructose Intolerance: Difficulty digesting fructose, found in fruits and some sweeteners, can cause digestive symptoms. Most people will have problems with fructose ingested in large quantities.

5. Swallowing Air:

  • Habitual Swallowing: Activities like chewing gum, drinking through straws, or talking while eating can lead to increased air swallowing.  Changing your lifestyle and being mindful of your activities while eating may be helpful.

6. Gastrointestinal Obstruction:

  • Partial Blockage: Conditions that partially obstruct the bowel, such as adhesions or tumors, can cause bloating. Obviously, people who have had prior abdominal surgeries are at increased risk. If you get nauseated, vomit with a firm abdomen, and are unable to pass flatus or gas you may need to be evaluated at an urgent care or emergency room.

Solutions to Alleviate Bloating and Gas

1. Dietary Adjustments:

  • Monitor Fiber Intake: Gradually increase fiber intake to allow your digestive system to adjust. Dietary fiber will attract certain bacteria that will change the composition of your microbiome or the ecological system of bacteria, fungi, and yeast in your GI tract.
  • Identify Trigger Foods: Keep a food diary to identify and limit foods that contribute to pain and bloating. Six of the most common foods to avoid as they can lead to food sensitivities with symptoms including bloating are the following: gluten, soy, corn, dairy/ milk, peanuts, and shellfish.

2. Eating Practices:

  • Chew Food Thoroughly: Properly chewing food can reduce the amount of air swallowed during meals. This also aids in digestion with the initial mechanical breakdown of the food and enzymatic breakdown with salivary amylase.
  • Small, Frequent Meals: Opt for smaller, more frequent meals to ease the digestive process. Timely transit out of the stomach and having plenty of digestive enzymes aid in digestion. Allowing 3-4 hours in between meals helps with motility as well.

3. Manage Stress:

Manage Stress

  • Mindful Practices: Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help reduce stress and improve digestive function. Cortisol is raised as part of the stress response and causes a decrease in the nutrient blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract.

4. Probiotics:

  • Probiotic Supplements: Introduce probiotics to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and bacillus species balance out more pro-inflammatory or pathogenic bacterial strains.

5. Stay Hydrated:

Stay Hydrated

  • Adequate Fluid Intake: Ensure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to support digestion. Lacking enough water causes the large intestine to increase water absorption producing harder stools, slower motility, and set for more gas build-up with a larger amount of potentially less helpful bacteria.

6. Medical Evaluation:

Medical Evaluation

  • Consult a Gastroenterologist: If symptoms persist or worsen, seek professional medical advice for a thorough evaluation. People over age 45 are at higher risk for colon polyps and should undergo a colon screening even if there are no complaints. Mechanical obstructive causes like cancer especially in the setting of unexplained weight loss also need a full medical evaluation.

By doing this, you'll get to know why you are having Gastritis and Shortness of Breath issues from a trained health professional.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What causes excessive gas and bloating?

There are many causes of having gas and bloating including a quick increase in high-fiber food you eat, consuming more gas-producing foods like beans, dietary habits such as quick eating, overeating, functional bowel conditions such as irritable bowel, inflammatory conditions like Crohn's disease, lactose intolerance or the inability to break down the sugar in milk, swallowing air, and having a bowel obstruction.

You can start with dietary changes and then consider the other causes.

What are the 5 signs of bloating?

  • Burping.
  • Swelling.
  • Cramps.
  • Gas (flatulence/ passing gas)
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.

Whether you are having constipation while traveling or even in your home, it could still be a sign of bloating.

How do you quickly and efficiently get rid of gas?

Remedies to Relieve Gas

  1. Herbal teas like spearmint, ginger, or anise.
  2. Apple cider vinegar is added to tea or water.
  3. Fennel seeds.
  4. A heating pad or warm bath.
  5. Gentle exercise.
  6. Deep breaths.
  7. Over-the-counter, such as simethicone.

What drink gets rid of gas?

Green tea helps reduce gas in the digestive tract, making it ideal after a spicy or fatty meal. Ginger tea or mixing fresh ginger with some liquid may help the stomach and small intestines move, allowing some passage of gas.

What is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?

Also known as SIBO, bacteria that are not supposed to be in any significant numbers in the small bowel establish their colonies of bacteria in the small bowel.

This gives them immediate access to your nutrition and the bacteria do not want to be flushed out so some may emit methane gas to slow your motility. These bacteria grow to larger numbers, releasing other gases like hydrogen as they digest food, and can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Why do I get gas and bloating with dairy?

Some people are not able to digest certain carbohydrates. A classic example is lactose, the major sugar in dairy products. Eating dairy (lactose) may lead to increased gas production, along with cramping and diarrhea.

Can Overeating cause Diarrhea? You can check out that article to clear that confusion.

Lactase is an enzyme that is available over the counter that may be helpful. Lactose-free milk or eating some yogurt at the time of dairy consumption are options that are available to try for people with lactose intolerance.

Which foods are more associated with burping?

Burping foods: Burping is more common with foods that relax the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus where it joins the stomach.

Peppermint, onions, spicy foods, chocolate, and high-fat foods will do this. Any carbohydrate like vegetables, grains, and fruits that you don’t have the enzymes to properly break down for digestion can lead to gas and burping.

When should I seek medical attention for gas and bloating?

If you have associated nausea, vomiting, worsening abdominal bloating, weight loss, fever, or inability to pass any gas you should seek medical assistance. You may call your primary MD, the physician on call if it occurs during non-business hours, or go to the urgent care or emergency room.

What medicine can you take for gas?

Simethicone helps break down gas bubbles that may feel bloated. It is available over the counter as Gas X or Mylanta. Another option would be activated charcoal but ideally, it should be taken before the meal to help reduce gas.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2022).
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. (2022).
  3. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
  4. American College of Gastroenterology.

Related Articles:

  1. Healthline. (2022).
  2. WebMD. (2022).

External Links:

  1. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). Learn more about Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.
  2. American Gastroenterological Association. Understanding Gastrointestinal Disorders.

In conclusion, understanding the reasons behind bloating and gas is crucial for effective management.

By making mindful dietary choices, adopting healthy eating habits, and seeking medical advice when needed, you can address bloating and gas, promoting better digestive health.

Remember, a balanced approach that combines lifestyle adjustments with professional guidance can lead to relief and a more comfortable daily experience.

Dr. Jeffrey Mark
With over thirty years of experience, Dr. Mark is a leading expert in holistic gut health. His integrative approach combines conventional medicine, functional and regenerative medicine, and advanced therapies to heal the gut and transform patient health. Holding 5 board certifications, Dr. Mark offers the comprehensive expertise of five medical specialists during each patient visit. He is dedicated to optimizing wellbeing by addressing the gut-related root causes of chronic health issues.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram