Bloating is one of the most common symptoms associated with IBS, yet it remains the most completely misunderstood. As with most symptoms related to IBS the causes of bloating can be multi-factorial and differ from person to person.
Bloating is defined as the perception of increased pressure in the abdomen, and is described as feeling like there is an inflated balloon in your abdomen.
Distension is different from bloating in that it involves a visible increase in the circumference of the abdomen. Bloating and distension don’t always occur together, with one study showing that distension only occurred in half of patients experiencing bloating.
The causes of bloating can be varied and complex and are probably produced by a combination of pathophysiological mechanisms that differ among individuals. Observations from recent studies suggest that impaired gas movement, i.e slow moving or trapped gas, is more often the source of the problem.
What causes bloating?
While there is no conclusive answer as to the underlying mechanism of bloating, researchers have proposed several different causes for bloating, including:
- Food malabsorption.
- Lowered digestive secretions.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO is a condition where, as the name implies, there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the usually low bacterial environment of the small intestine. (Learn more about SIBO here.)
Fermentation of fibre by bacteria is a normal process in the large intestine, but when this process begins in the small intestine due to an overgrowth of bacteria, the gases produced may create problems. Because the small intestine is relatively narrow, even small amounts of extra gas produced there may cause excessive pressure and result in bloating and discomfort.
Some bloating sufferers may have an inability to fully absorb particular types of carbohydrates. When they arrive in the lower small intestine and colon, these poorly absorbed carbohydrates provide the food for bacterial fermentation, which can lead to bloating, distension and pain.
The most common culprits are: Lactose, Sorbitol, Fructose, and starches found in whole grains.
Learn more about food and IBS here.
Lowered Digestive Secretions
Digestive secretions such as gastric acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes are important in breaking down components of our food making them easier to absorb. If any digestive secretion is lacking, food tends to take longer to digest, giving bacteria more time to ferment and produce gases which may lead to bloating.
The presence of a parasitic infection, such as Giardia, B. Hominis, or D.Fragilis, is commonly known to cause the symptoms of bloating, distension and abdominal pain.
Learn more about Parasites and IBS here.
How do I find out what’s causing my bloating?
As you can see the causes of bloating can be varied and complex, that’s why it’s so important you find the true cause of your bloating. At the Digestive Wellness Clinic we conduct a comprehensive case history, symptom analysis, dietary analysis, and the most appropriate functional pathology testing, such as:
- Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis.
- Faecal Microbial Analysis.
- 3-Day Parasitology.
- Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test.
How is it treated?
Once we have a better idea of whats causing your bloating, we begin a treatment plan using diet, herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle changes. This plan works by:
- Removing foods from your diet that cause inflammation, feed the wrong bacteria and irritate the gut wall.
- Removing any abnormal growth of bacteria, yeasts and/or parasites in your gut.
- Restoring beneficial bacteria and re-establishing healthy bacterial balance in your gut.
- Improving motility and restoring digestive secretions.
- Reducing inflammation and repairing the lining of your gastrointestinal tract.
To learn more about the testing and treatment options available to you we recommend you take a free 15 minute phone consultation with our Naturopath. During this call you can learn more about our treatments and have any questions you may have answered. This call is to determine if we are a good fit for one another rather than a history or complete consultation. There is no obligation, and no strings attached.
It is quick and easy to book your free 15-minute phone consultation using our online calendar. Just click the link below, choose a date and time convenient for you, enter your details, and our Naturopath will call you at your chosen time. Book here
Alternatively you can call (02) 8001 6344 or email here
If you don’t find a suitable time, email us and we’ll arrange a time for you.