Can gas in digestive tract cause abdominal bloating?

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Lee T. Austin, MD
Gastroenterology
Gas in the intestinal tract is typically caused by swallowing too much air or it can be caused by the breakdown of certain foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and beans. Some patients can experience abdominal gas bloat syndrome after they undergo surgery to correct GERD, where a one way valve is placed between the esophagus and stomach that allows food and gas to enter the stomach. Typically, bloating is caused by an intestinal motility disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Motility disorders are characterized by abnormal contractions of the intestinal muscles, which can give a false sensation of bloating and an increased sensitivity to gas.

Many people believe that too much gas causes abdominal bloating. However, people who complain of bloating often have normal amounts and distribution of gas. They may just be unusually aware of gas in the digestive tract.

Doctors believe that bloating is usually the result of an intestinal disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The cause of IBS is unknown, but may involve abnormal movements and contractions of intestinal muscles and increased pain sensitivity in the intestines. These disorders may give a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to gas.

Any disease that causes intestinal inflammation or obstruction, such as Crohn?s disease or colon cancer, may also cause abdominal bloating. In addition, people who have had many operations, internal hernias, or bands of internal scar tissue called adhesions, may experience bloating or pain. Finally, eating a lot of fatty food can delay stomach emptying and cause bloating and discomfort, but not necessarily too much gas.

This answer is based on the source infromation from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.