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Gas And Bloating

Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, PC -  - Gastroenterologist

Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, PC

Gastroenterologist located in New York City on Manhattan's Upper East Side

Everyone passes gas, but chronic gas and bloating can indicate a food intolerance or an underlying medical condition. At her Manhattan practice on the Upper East Side, Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, brings over 30 years of experience as a gastroenterologist to diagnosing and treating digestive disorders. Don’t ignore symptoms like gas and bloating; call Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.

Gas and Bloating Q & A

What causes gas and bloating?

Passing gas is a normal body function, but you can experience gas and bloating for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Mouth breathing or chronic nasal congestion, especially at night
  • Drinking carbonated beverages such as soda, seltzer, beer or champagne
  • Chewing gum, especially diet gums with artificial sweeteners
  • Eating lots of vegetables that you may not be able to digest fully
  • Consuming puffed foods such as popcorn and thick rice cakes
  • Eating concentrated "nutritional" bars

You might also experience gas and bloating if you have an issue with:

  • Milk and dairy products and have lactase deficiency
  • Sugar and starches and have a sucrase-isomaltase deficiency
  • Wheat products and have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance

There could be a more serious underlying condition with intestinal narrowing and blockage, such as Crohn's Disease, a tumor (benign or malignant), abdominal adhesions, or even endometriosis.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) may also cause gas and bloating.

Do I have to be concerned about always being gassy?

Yes, even if your gassiness stems from a simple cause like mouth breathing.

Excess gas and abdominal bloating distend your abdomen and this increased abdominal pressure often results in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as heartburn. If this goes untreated, it could lead to Barrett's Esophagus, a precancerous condition.

Enzyme deficiencies may also impact the absorption of other nutrients and disrupt normal gastrointestinal function and other body systems.

If you have celiac disease, ingesting the protein gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, and other numerous foods and condiments like soy sauce) damages your small intestinal surface and leads to iron and vitamin D deficiency, ultimately affecting your blood and bones.

How is the cause of gas and bloating diagnosed and treated?

During your initial consultation with Dr. Woolrich, she listens to your issues and concerns and then will ask you many questions about you and your family members. She will also ask you to describe your typical day of eating and snacking. Then she will perform an abdominal exam and may need to do a digital rectal exam to test for occult bleeding. Dr. Woolrich might also order blood tests or radiology testing at an outside facility to help with her diagnosis, especially if she suspects that you have celiac or Crohn's disease. After your examination and testing, Dr. Woolrich will meet with you again to discuss your specific condition and create an individualized treatment plan. This might include dietary changes such as eliminating certain foods and carbonation. She might recommend trying over the counter products such as Lactaid pills® and Beano®.

If Dr. Woolrich determines that your bloating has led to chronic reflux, she might recommend an upper endoscopy to assess esophageal damage.

During this procedure, she will also take biopsies from your small intestine to assess any damage from gluten as in celiac disease.

Dr. Woolrich also takes biopsies to perform disaccharidase enzyme testing to determine whether you are deficient in lactase, sucrase, and maltase. If you have low levels, she will prescribe the appropriate supplements.

Lactaid pills® are easily obtained at your pharmacy or grocery store, while Sucraid® must be ordered from a specialty pharmacy and shipped to you. Sucraid® is the sucrase enzyme that helps you digest sugars and carbohydrates.

She also recommends that you seek a complimentary consultation with a dietician provided by the company that makes the Sucraid® enzyme.

Many foods may surprise you as containing sugar,  such as bread, apples, oranges, carrots, rice, potatoes, and so many more. The list is overwhelming, but the dietician can help you sort it all out.

Dr. Woolrich has found that by treating the cause of her patients' bloating, she is often successful in eliminating the need for reflux medication. To arrange for a consultation about your gas and abdominal bloating, call Dr. Woolrich or schedule an appointment online today.