BOD-ities: No matter what I eat, I feel like I end up feeling bloated and gassy. This is embarrassing, especially when I’m at parties. What can I do to prevent it?
Let’s start by remembering that passing gas and gas pains are normal parts of digestion. In fact, the average person might pass gas between 10 and 20 times per day. But just because it isn’t indicative of a more serious health problem doesn’t mean gas can’t be a little embarrassing—particularly if you’re in the midst of a crowded party.
However, you shouldn’t seek to prevent gas altogether—as this can only cause further pain or discomfort—there are a few steps you can take to manage its symptoms. At future meals and parties, try to limit your intake of:
- Fried and fatty foods
- High fiber foods and fiber supplements
- Carbonation (beer, soda, seltzer)
- Sugar-free foods – Sugar additives and sweeteners can contribute to gas
- Fruits and vegetables – While produce is necessary for a balanced diet, some fruits and vegetables can worsen gas pain
While these are the most common triggers for gas and gas pain, the best way to manage your symptoms is to monitor your diet and determine what your personal triggers are. Keep a food journal for a month and make a note of when you experience gas. You’ll likely notice a trend in your diet or the foods you’ve been eating, which will likely be the cause of your gas pain.
If you’ve tried to better understand your triggers and adjust your diet accordingly, you should find relief from gas pain. But if gas and gas pain continue and are accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor:
- Bloody or different-colored stool
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain that will not subside
- Unintended weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- New or worsening constipation
These can be symptoms of gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or colitis, diverticulitis, a food allergy or intolerance such as celiac disease. These are all health issues that can be managed with lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.
Treating your digestive concerns
Digestive diseases vary from common problems such as acid reflux to rare inherited liver conditions. Some diseases need life-long management by a gastroenterologist, and some diseases, including cancers, may be prevented or even cured with early detection and diagnosis. The gastroenterologists at Main Line Health, with locations throughout the Philadelphia region, manage all forms of digestive diseases.