Bloating, belching, and flatulence are all results of indigestion and formation of intestinal gas.
You may develop these symptoms due to bad eating habit, an underlying medical condition, and/or poor lifestyle.
Let’s discuss major causes of these digestion related issues like bloating, belching, and flatulence.
Causes of Belching
The medical term used for belching is eructation.
It involves expulsion of gas from our stomach through our mouth.
On most occasions, belching occurs when our stomach gets inflated by swallowed air.
Such stomach distention results in abdominal discomfort and we end up belching in order to expel the confined air. This action provides us with instant comfort.
This leads to the question, “Why do people swallow air?”
There can be a number of factors that may force us to swallow air. However, the most common reason is gulping up food or beverages too rapidly.
Anxiety and consumption of aerated drinks can also make us swallow air.
Here, we would like you to note that people often fail to notice that they are gulping up air. So, it’s important to be careful when eating or drinking something.
Infants usually cannot belch on their own in spite of swallowing air.
So, every time you feed your little one you must make him/her burp (burping and belching refers to the same action). This will ensure that all the swallowed air is expelled from the baby’s stomach.
While swallowing air is the most common cause of belching, there are people who belch for different reasons.
For some, belching is a habit. They will belch at regular intervals irrespective of the fact whether there’s air in their stomach or not.
You will also come across people who belch because of some kind of abdominal discomfort. The discomfort may or may not be caused by increased levels of stomach gas.
If there’s no extra air trapped in your stomach, your discomfort will not decrease even after belching.
In such cases, you should consult a qualified physician. He is the best person to identify the underlying health issue forcing you to belch.
Causes of Bloating
Before we educate you about various causes of bloating, you must learn the difference between distention and bloating.
Distention is basically a physical finding or objective determination revealing that our abdomen in bigger than normal. You may discover that you have distention after failing to fit into a pair of jeans.
Bloating, on the contrary, is an absolute subjective sensation.
It will make you feel full in spite of not eating anything. Bloating will make you feel uncomfortable.
However, at times, the physical sensation comes coupled with physical changes i.e. increase in the size of the abdomen.
Bloating usually occurs when the muscles forming our abdominal walls relaxes. This action usually results from downward movements of our diaphragm.
Relaxed abdominal muscle might also cause mild distention.
Abdominal distention, on the other hand, can occur due to three different reasons. These include, accumulation of excess fluid, tissue, and/or air in the abdomen.
The above conditions may happen due to a number of underlying health disorders.
Your doctor is the best person to find out whether the distention is caused by tissue, fluid, or water and recommend diagnostic tests accordingly.
Distention is either continuous or intermittent.
The common causes of continuous distention are:
- Enlargement of an intrabdominal organ
- Intrabdominal tumors
- Fluid accumulation in peritoneal cavity
Intermittent distention, on the other hand, occurs primarily due to accumulation of fluid or gas in the colon, small intestine, and/or stomach.
Causes of Flatulence
Flatulence, an action commonly known as farting, involves passing of intestinal gas through the anus.
A healthy individual would experience flatulence 15 to 20 times a day.
Gas accumulated in our gastrointestinal tract can have two sources.
Either it is the air we swallow or it’s the air produced by various intestinal bacteria (these bacteria are found primarily in our colon).
However, if you are experiencing excessive flatulence, it is unlikely that the accumulated air was swallowed by you.
Excessive gas formation always occurs due to our intestinal bacteria. These organisms produce gas (usually methane or hydrogen) when digesting various food items consumed by us.
The gas formation remains at its peak during digestion of non-digestible polysaccharides (cellulose and starch) and sugar. These are components that were not digested when passing through our small intestine.
Here’s some more information about food types responsible for causing excess flatulence –
Foods Responsible for Flatulence
Sugars: The sugar types that get maldigested (poorly digested) and mal-absorbed most frequently are:
- Lactose: The sugar found in milk is termed as lactose. We fail to digest lactose properly due to absence of an enzyme called lactose. This is usually a genetic disorder and results in severe maldigestion of milk and all milk products.
- Sorbitol: This is a sweetener commonly used when preparing low-calorie dishes.
- Fructose: The sugar present in fruits (as well as some vegetables) is called fructose. This sugar type is frequently used for sweetening beverages and candies.
- Polysaccharides: Intestinal gas is often formed due to maldigestion of starches.
For those who don’t know, starches are basically plant-based polysaccharides that are formed of fructose and other long chain sugars.
Here are the most common sources of starches –
Rice: Rice is a rich source of starches. However, digesting the rice starches is typically easy.
Once the digestion process is over, a small quantity of rice starch enters our colon. So, our colonic bacteria get to feed on small quantity of starches and produces just a little gas.
Wheat, potatoes, and oats: The starches sourced from wheat, potatoes, and oats (and at times corn), often remain entirely undigested and enter our colon.
Thus, the quantity of gas produced from those starches are usually pretty high.
There are some vegetables and fruits, for instance, cabbage, beans, watermelon, etc. are contain maldigested starches.
Thus, these food items also cause excessive flatulence pretty often.
Another component that can cause flatulence is cellulose. That’s because our digestive system cannot digest this component.
Most fruits and vegetables are rich sources of cellulose.
However, the good news is that our colonic bacteria takes a lot of time to digest cellulose. As a result, the process of digestion rarely produces enough gas to cause prominent flatulence.
The section above would help you to identify the causes whenever you will experience belching, bloating, or flatulence from now on.
However, you should not try to be your own doctor if the problem persists. Visit an experienced physician and allow him/her to identify the health problem causing the above symptoms.