GERD

man holding his gassy upset stomach

The TMI Zone: Can Gas Hurt You?

Gas is one of those “TMI zone” issues people deal with every day.

It’s just part of the human condition. Everyone “emits” gas anywhere from 14-20 times a day. For the most part, it’s no big deal…

Recently, I had a reader ask me what would happen if he tried to hold onto his gas for an extended time at work when he couldn’t take a break, especially if his excessive gas was typically smelly. (You were warned this was a “TMI zone!”)

It’s not an unusual question!

Not surprisingly, this is a very common and stinky problem people search on Google for guidance, especially in the workplace.

In fact, a federal employee working for the Social Security Administration was reprimanded by his manager for excessive gas emissions that created a “hostile work environment” in his office.

Hostile sounds pretty appropriate, given 60 episodes were documented over 17 days in a story that made national headlines several years ago.

The real health issues

Some believe holding back on gas could create its own set of health issues. Fact is, excessive gas, as experienced by this federal employee, could be a sign that diverticulitis could be a problem too.

That extra gas may be creating other issues, like problems with your stools (a lack of consistency or the presence of blood), a change in the frequency of your bowel movements and even nausea and vomiting.

And, it could also be a warning sign that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux are real problems that must be dealt with right away.

What can you do?

So, if holding back isn’t a great solution, how do you reduce intestinal gas?

For starters, you may have heard about FODMAPs, the kinds of carbohydrates contained in some dairy products, fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, legumes and wheat.

Some people have a harder time tolerating these kinds of carbs which creates the opportunity for more gas, so you’ll want to work with your doctor on a healthier, less gassy diet that’s better for you.

SLOW DOWN when you’re drinking fluids and eating meals, especially big ones.

That may also mean cutting back on consuming so many sugary sweet carbonated drinks, including diet beverages made with artificial sweeteners that harm your gut health in many other ways.

Are you having a hard time tracking what you’re eating in your head on a daily basis? Maintaining a food diary on paper (here’s a free worksheet from the National Institutes of Health) or on your cell phone is an easy way to stay on the right side of good health.

A simple solution for this “TMI Zone” issue of extra stomach gas: Take a probiotic made with 10 species and 20 billion CFUs of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

someone holding hot water bottle

An Expert’s Take on Dealing with Gas

Out of the many gut-related issues patients have discussed with me over the years, problems with excess air and gas resulting in bloating, a sensation of fullness in your abdomen, are the most common by a long shot.

Just to make it really clear, EVERYONE produces gas — anywhere from 1-4 pints daily and passes it about 14 times a day — and it can build up in your gastrointestinal tract.

But how does this common issue go from an occasional embarrassment to a more serious health issue?

The GI tract

There’s a number of reasons why patients may have problems, and some may have more to do with the upper digestive tract and swallowing too much air, creating belching or bloating. In fact, this extra air may never reach the stomach or lower GI tract at all.

Much of it builds up in the esophagus, especially if patients are overdoing it on certain foods or they smoke, chew gum or drink and eat too fast.

Because most of these causes are obvious signs of the body reacting badly to a more stressful go-go-GO! lifestyle, we’ve got some simple solutions that could help.

More symptoms

Some signs that extra air and gas may be a real problem, however, are when patients begin experiencing symptoms of acid reflux (the backward flow of stomach acid to the esophagus), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more severe form of acid reflux in which frequent heartburn is common, or an H. pylori infection in the stomach.

(Most people assume GERD and acid reflux are the same thing, but medical experts see them as slightly different health problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.)

And, for patients who have experienced a dramatic change in weight loss or gains, a hernia, any abdominal surgery or changes in the frequency or color of their stools (or see blood in them), you should visit your family physician for more guidance.

Minor challenges, easy solutions

Fortunately, the large majority of our symptoms will be minor inconveniences or embarrassing, at worst, in the moment. Here are some simple ways to treat bloating, belching or excess gas you may want to try first.

  1. Spend a little more time eating meals or drinking fluids. The more you rush, the more opportunities you have to swallow air that comes back in uncomfortable and embarrassing ways.
  2. Limit your intake of high-fiber foods (like broccoli, beans and onions) and fatty foods for a short time. After your symptoms lessen, try re-introducing those foods, and pay close attention to which ones give you trouble.
  3. Reduce your intake of carbonated drinks and foods that use sugar alcohol substitutes like sorbitol. Consuming fizzy drinks or chewing gum sweetened by sorbitol or xylitol just adds to your gas problems.
  4. Are you doing any exercise? Think about taking a short walk after your meals.
  5. Consider taking a probiotic. A healthy solution like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — containing multiple species of beneficial bacteria — is a good way to restore the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Taking a probiotic is important considering carbohydrates can be poorly absorbed by the gut, creating imbalances in your gut bacteria.

Also, multi-strain probiotics like EndoMune offer the extra benefit of treating constipation, another way food waste gets trapped in the colon and creates opportunities for excess gas to escape when you least expect it.

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