Abdominal Bloating and Gas

This seemingly simple symptom is actually quite complicated and not well understood.

The obvious suggestion is that there is too much "gas" in the abdomen. This is true to some extent but there may be several other factors that explain the symptom. There is an association of irritable bowel syndrome with abdominal bloating suggesting that some of the bloating is an abnormal perception of a mild amount of distension. The key feature of irritable bowel is an abnormal sensitivity to distension.

A genuine increase in wind may be caused by excess fermentation of food therefore some change in diet may help. Treatment of constipation may be helpful as a delay in transit time increases the time for production of gas. Most of the gas is produced by fermentation of poorly absorbed carbohydrates. A simple suggestion for dietary change is to switch from bread and pasta to rice as much as possible.

An excess of fructose may be a problem - reduce fresh fruits, muesli bars, carbonated drinks. Tablet treatment is not usually helpful.

For more information visit the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website.