Gas or Flatulence: When to seek medical help?

By  , Expert Content
Jul 07, 2012

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Gas or flatulence is a very common condition, which affects the digestive system. Most people can diagnose it by themselves and it improves with self-care, diet and lifestyle changes. In some people, however, flatulence may be caused by some other medical condition or problem and not swallowing more air than usual or eating food that is difficult to digest. Some common health problems that can cause symptoms of flatulence include:

  • constipation
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • coeliac disease (a type of digestive problem caused because of intolerance to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley)
  • lactose intolerance (in this condition, the body fails to digest lactose i.e. a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products)
  • gastroenteritis (i.e. stomach and bowel infection)
  • malabsorption (a medical condition in which the intestines fail to absorb nutrients properly).

Consult your doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Bothersome or significant bloating of abdomen.
  • Persistent abdominal pain and bloating.
  • Recurrent or frequent episodes of diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Unintended or unexplained weight loss.
  • Bowel incontinence.
  • Blood in stool (faeces).
  • Symptoms suggestive of infection, such as a high temperature, vomiting, chills, joint pain and muscle pain.
  • Symptoms of gas worsen despite self-care and diet changes.

Consult a doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms with gas:

  • Recurrent vomiting (which does not allow you to retain food, fluids and medications).
  • Fever with abdominal pain.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Chest pain.
  • Black, tarry stools.

Who to consult

Some health professionals, who can be consulted for your symptoms include;

  • general physicians
  • family doctor
  • fastroenterologist (doctor ,who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to gastrointestinal system),
  • physician assistants and
  • internists.



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