Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence

Definition & Symptoms

Intestinal gas is a common gastrointestinal problem. Belching is normal and is caused by swallowed air which sits in the stomach. Swallowed air can be belched and exit through the mouth, or it can be passed on through the intestines and exit via the rectum. The intestines also naturally produce a small amount of gas through the activity of colonic bacteria and digestion of food. This is known as flatulence. Bloating is a common gastrointestinal symptom. The sensation of bloating is caused by a feeling of fullness in the abdomen caused by gas or food. Bloating can cause abdominal pain.

Risk factors

Risk factors include chewing gum, hard candy, and carbonated beverages such as soda or beer. Additionally, people may swallow excess air if they are anxious or have an upper respiratory infection. Foods that can produce excess bowel gas include leafy greens, beans, and bran foods. Dairy products can lead to bloating and flatulence in people who are lactose intolerant.

Diagnostics

Dietary changes can help significantly reduce symptoms. However, if dietary changes fail, further testing may be done through endoscopy and hydrogen breath testing to evaluate for celiac disease, small intestine bacteria overgrowth, and gastric inflammation

Treatment

Dietary changes, oral medications, and antibiotics can be used to alleviate symptoms once the original cause of the symptoms is discovered.

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