Gas or flatulence is a common medical condition for which people visit their doctor. Common symptoms of gas are abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, passing a lot of gas (flatulence) and belching. You may not experience all the symptoms and the severity of symptoms may vary from mild to severe. Severity and nature of symptoms depends on how much gas your body produces, the amount of fatty acids the body absorbs and your sensitivity to gas in the large intestine.
- Belching: Gas is a common cause of belching. Most people belch occasionally during or after meals to release gas when the stomach is full of food; this is considered normal. Some people, however, belch more frequently, which may be because of swallowing too much air and releasing it before the air enters the intestine. Chronic belching may be caused because of upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, such as peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying. Some people may belch deliberately or inadvertently develop a habit of belching to relieve discomfort.
- Flatulence: Another common symptom of too much gas is flatulence. Most people do not know that healthy adults pass gas about 14 to 23 times a day, but if you pass too much gas, it can be a problem and source of embarrassment. Too much gas may be caused because of many conditions, such as lactose intolerance, carbohydrate malabsorption, etc.
- Abdominal Bloating: Some people with gas may feel that their abdomen is bloated while others may complain of bloating from gas even when they have normal amount and distribution of gas.
Bloating may be caused because of an intestinal disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The cause of IBS is unknown, but it may involve abnormal movements and contractions of intestinal muscles and increased pain sensitivity in the intestines. These disorders may give a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to gas. Some other conditions that may cause bloating include many operations of abdomen, internal hernias or formation of bands of internal scar tissue called adhesions. Eating a lot of fatty food can also cause bloating as stomach emptying is delayed making one feel uncomfortable. Bloating may be caused as a complication of fundoplication surgery to correct GERD. In this surgery, a one-way valve is created between the oesophagus and stomach to allow food and gas to enter the stomach, but often prevents normal belching and the ability to vomit. In most cases, however, the symptom improves with time.
- Abdominal Pain and Discomfort: Gas in the stomach can cause pain and discomfort. The pain may be experienced in the abdomen or on the left side of the abdomen and chest. In such cases, it may be confused with a heart disease. If the pain is on the right side of abdomen and severe, it may mimic gallstones or appendicitis.
These are some symptoms of gas or flatulence, though all the symptoms can be caused because of many other conditions of the abdomen. Your doctor can examine you and diagnose the cause of your symptoms and treat it appropriately.
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