Being bloated on a regular basis is uncomfortable, painful and can seriously impact your quality of life. Some people just can’t understand what triggers their bloating and are sick of feeling horrible all of the time. There can be so many possible causes for bloating.
What is bloating?
First things first. Intestinal bloating occurs when there is gas produced while our digestive system processes the food and/or drink we have eaten. Gas is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which causes distension of abdomen and gives you that distinctive swollen belly look.
What causes bloating
Common triggers include:
Gluten related disorders
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where gluten is identified by the immune system and antibodies are formed against it. Whether or not you have the Coeliac gene, you know that each time you eat gluten you react with bloating or other gut problems. You could have non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity. Here’s how to find out if you have it.
If wheat, onions, garlic, apples, pears, honey and soft drinks are major triggers for your bloating then you should rule out the possibility of fructose malabsorption. Most people who react to foods that are high in fructose already have other signs and symptoms going on.Being bloated on a regular basis is painful and can seriously hinder your quality of life. There are many possible causes. Working out which one causes your symptoms is the key to beating the bloat.
Low stomach acid and/or digestive enzyme production
Food should not spend too much time in the stomach. But when stomach acid is too low to break down protein or the digestive enzymes are not present in strong enough numbers then food ferments in a semi-digested form. This fermentation leads to gas production and then viola! A bloat.
Ruling out dairy allergy and lactose intolerance is important. If you are bloating shortly after eating dairy foods but are fine with butter and hard yellow cheeses then lactose intolerance is worth investigating.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO – read more about it here) occurs when there is an abnormally high number of colonic bacteria in the small intestine. Excessive numbers of bacteria in the small intestine lead to signs and symptoms of diarrhea, constipation or even alternating stools. SIBO can also cause bloating.
Dysbiosis & Helicobacter pylori infection
Dysbiosis refers to imbalance of bacteria in the large intestine. Bowel flora that overgrow or undergrow can cause digestive problems further up the intestinal tract. Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria found in the stomach that can inhibit the production of stomach and contribute to bloating, pain and reflux.
Parasites such as Blastocystis hominis, Dientamoeba fragilis and Giardia lambia can cause a myriad of gut symptoms including bloating and may need to be ruled out as a cause. We can test for those and the treatments are really effective.
What investigations will reveal the cause of your bloat
There are lots of ways to tackle bloating. First you need to identify the cause of your bloat. Below is a list of tests that will help you work things out. You will need a health practitioner to arrange one or more of these tests depending on your symptoms.
- Fecal Fats
- Pancreatic elastase
- Fecal reducing sugars
- Coeliac gene testing
- Coeliac antibody testing
- Helicobacter pylori stool antigen
- Helicobacter pylori breath testing
- PCR and MCS stool test to rule out parasites
- Microbiome analysis with a reputable lab (Genova Diagnostics, Microba or Ubiome)
- Hydrogen breath testing rule out fructose malabsorption and SIBO with a reputable lab (Stream Diagnostics or Monash University)