Bloating That Makes You Feel Like You Are Pregnant
By Dr. Jasraj Jaswal, ND, Naturopathic Doctor
I have had a lot of people coming in with concerns of bloating in these past few months. They complain that their stomach feels so swollen that it’s as if they are pregnant. When questioned about the bloating, patients notice that it seems to get worse as the day progresses. They also complain of having a lot of flatulence, diarrhea or constipation. Even drinking water might make them bloated. Patients cannot seem to figure out if certain foods are causing the problem or why they have no symptoms with the same food at one time and
other times the same food might be intolerable. Nausea, fatigue, heartburn and brain fog might also be experienced by these patients. Furthermore, patients have done various tests with their family doctor such as colonoscopy, endoscopy, H.pylori and all these tests appear normal. Some patients get a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) from their MD for their symptoms with little or no recommendation for treatment.
So, what is going on with these cases? Why are people not even able to drink water without feeling bloated? Why can they handle certain foods at one time and not others? Is it really IBS?
The answer might be something called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO is an accumulation of bacteria in the small intestine.These bacteria can enter our bodies through our food and drink or back up from our large intestine into our small intestine. This abnormal overgrowth can interfere with normal digestion. It can damage the lining of the small intestine resulting in leaky gut, and deficiency in B12 and iron as it starts consuming
our food. It can cause malabsorption of fats as well. SIBO is most commonly caused by anything that slows the motility or downward movement of intestines. This downward movement is supposed to sweep any leftover food particles or bacteria from the small intestine to the large intestine but many things may affect motility of the intestines such as
hyperthyroidism, diabetes, food poisoning, scleroderma, proton pump inhibitors,
painkillers or surgery that damages nerve function.
A breath test can be done to find out if you have SIBO. For this test, patients are provided with a lactulose solution to drink and their breath is collected every 20 mins in a tube for 90 mins. This breath sample is collected to determine which type of gas is produced by the bacteria, either hydrogen or methane. Humans cannot digest, absorb or break down lactulose. If certain levels of hydrogen or methane gas are detected, SIBO is diagnosed because the lactulose can only be broken down by bacteria.
There are many things that can be done to treat SIBO such as diet changes, herbal antibiotics and taking appropriate probiotics. It is essential that the underlying cause of SIBO be identified and resolved to prevent future relapses.
Our Naturopathic Doctors offer free 15 minute consultations. This is a great way to meet them and see if Naturopathic Medicine might be able to address your health concerns.
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