So, What Brings You In Today? – Why you should see your doctor about excessive gas

Posted on August 10, 2017

Gas sufferers encounter a lot of medical jargon in search of a cure for what ails them, and it’s tempting (but not advisable!) to self-diagnose. Just because your co-worker swears by a gluten-free diet, swearing off wheat may not work for you. Here’s how to prepare for your next visit, why you should be aware that excessive gas can signal certain medical concerns, and how to choose a healthy eating plan that’s specific to your body’s needs.

Gut check

Most people consider excessive gas embarrassing or inconvenient, but it’s not on their radar as a medical problem. The Mayo Clinic advises you to “call  your doctor if gas is accompanied by:

  • Prolonged abdominal pain
  • Bloody stools
  • A change in stool color or frequency
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent or recurrent nausea or vomiting

Gas-causing medical conditions

Your doctor can determine whether or not you have a gas-causing food intolerance.  “If your gas and bloating occur mainly after eating dairy products, it may be because your body isn’t able to break down the sugar (lactose) in dairy foods.”

Risk factors

The recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake guidelines can help reduce your risk of certain life-threatening diseases. Mayo cautions that these general recommendations can exacerbate existing digestive issues. A World Health Organization paper suggests we can reduce our risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease by consuming 400 grams (about 14 ounces) of produce every day.

Along with eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, individuals “are more likely to have problems with gas if they:

  • Are lactose or gluten intolerant
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
  • Drink carbonated beverages
  • Have a chronic intestinal condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease”

Prepare for your medical appointment

What to do before your visit

Keep a record of when you experience gastrointestinal distress. Be sure to note what you’ve had to eat and drink. Pay attention to behaviors (such as drinking through a straw or chewing gum) that can aggravate your condition.

It’s a good idea to bring a list of all the medications you’re taking. The list should include OTC, herbal, and prescription drugs. (Your primary care physician may not be aware of medications prescribed by other health professionals, such as your dentist or a specialist.)

What your doctor should ask you

Your doctor should ask about your symptoms (frequency, type, and history); medications; habits (chewing gum, drinking through a straw, candy consumption); diet; unexplained weight change.

What your doctor should tell you

Your doctor may order diagnostic tests, may consult specialists, or ask questions and examine you. Once all the information is in, he or she will be able to offer a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. This individualized plan may include lifestyle changes (exercise, diet, behavior modification).

Healthy diets

Most American adults don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. It’s tempting to avoid these foods, as they can trigger digestive distress. Once you’ve been examined and assessed by your doctor, you can discuss which foods should be limited, which you should avoid, and those you should eliminate. We’ve published menu planning ideas and recipes that make it easier to follow a varied and nourishing diet.

This article is intended to spark a dialogue with your doctor. If you’re experiencing excessive gas, schedule a consult so your physician can diagnose the cause of your distress. Only she reviews your medications (prescription and OTC), medical history, and decides whether to run diagnostic tests can the cause of your symptoms be determined.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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