Flatulence is annoying – and often embarrassing. Our expert reveals where the bloated stomach comes from and what really helps against it.
It rumbles, the stomach is tense and it may be painful: there must have been air. What helps against a bloated stomach? Farting in any case is frowned upon: Nobody just sits down at the desk in the open-plan office and lets the flatulence run free and you don’t want to fart to yourself in the home office either. Instead, you try to do the thing inconspicuously in the toilet.
So bloating is not uncommon. Everyone lets air out of the bowel several times a day – an average of 14 times a day. “There are, however, great individual differences,” says Professor Dr. Thomas Frieling. He is an internist, gastroenterologist and director of the Medical Clinic II at the Helios Klinikum Krefeld. “That depends, among other things, on diet and digestion.”
Where does the bloated stomach come from?
Flatulent foods are often responsible for excessive gas in the intestines. “In this case, the symptoms are mostly of a temporary nature,” says Frieling. This is the case with beans, for example. “After eating beans, the amount of gas increases from normally around 15 milliliters per hour to 170 milliliters.” The air in the stomach usually disappears quickly afterwards.
However, if someone is permanently suffering from severe flatulence , there can be various causes. One of these is stress combined with hasty eating, where you swallow a lot of air that then travels from the stomach to the intestines. Even those who attach particular importance to their diet often suffer from a lot of gases in the intestine and stomach pain. “Those who consume a lot of fiber tend to have more flatulence on average,” says the expert.
What foods cause gas?
Not everyone can digest foods that are high in fiber . They are contained in whole grain products, for example, and can cause problems, especially if you rapidly switch your diet to high levels of fiber . This is one of the most common causes of gas. “There are dietary fibers that are better tolerated,” says Frieling. For example, flax seeds can be exchanged for flea seeds, which are far less puffy.
You can prevent flatulence with these behaviors :
- Eat small meals
- Avoid raw vegetables in the evening
- take enough time to eat
Intolerances are often difficult to diagnose
Much more often, however, food intolerance is the cause of an extreme bloated stomach. Intolerance to lactose and fructose are particularly common. “A doctor can determine such an intolerance with a breath test,” says Frieling. The substitute sugar sorbitol also often causes problems in the intestine.
However, there are also intolerances to various other substances in food that can also cause flatulence, a feeling of fullness and other symptoms. “Unfortunately, something like this is often not easy to diagnose,” says the expert. Patients can find out about intolerance by keeping a food diary. For a month they meticulously record what they have eaten and whether they have suffered from flatulence or other symptoms afterwards.
What helps against a bloated stomach?
Those who suffer from bloating can also try the following tips:
- yourself enough time to eat Take
- observe whether bloating with certain foods associated
- Try home remedies such as fennel or cumin
Another possible cause of flatulence is chronic constipation. On the other hand, it helps to stimulate digestion:
- move a lot
- Consume flea seeds (make sure to drink a lot!)
- drink enough
Medicines can also increase air in the abdomen. “This often applies, for example, to drugs that lower blood pressure,” explains the expert. However, you should never just stop using such drugs. It is better to speak to your doctor and, in consultation with him, switch to another medication.
What to do if you have an extremely bloated stomach
Some people with severe flatulence or other complaints also find it helpful to avoid simple and multiple sugars as well as alcohols, which are found in many foods. Such a diet is called Fodmap , as these letters are used to abbreviate the technical terms for fermented sugars and alcohols (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols).
“For many of those affected, the symptoms improve significantly,” says Frieling. The clear disadvantage, however, is that the so-called fodmaps are contained in almost all foods. If you go on the diet for longer, it may help against the stomach pain, but there is a risk of deficiency symptoms. “It is therefore important never to do something like this on your own, but rather to carry out the diet for a limited time under medical supervision,” says the expert.
Intensive research is being carried out on the intestines and digestion
It is also speculated whether another possible cause for increased air in the abdomen can be caused by a disturbed microbiome . In this case, the interaction of the microorganisms in the intestine does not work well, for example because their proportions are unfavorably distributed. Some people try to combat their gas by taking probiotics. According to Frieling, the influence of probiotics specifically on flatulence has not yet been adequately researched.
Even with very severe flatulence, however, a cause cannot always be found. In such cases, irritable bowel syndrome or an irritable stomach is often diagnosed. “This topic is currently being intensively researched,” says Frieling. Among other things, certain biomarkers play a role with which different subgroups of an irritable bowel or an irritable stomach can be determined. Frieling says: “We believe that in the future an irritable stomach or an irritable bowel can be treated much better than before.” Those affected can also get information on this and other gastrointestinal problems from the Gastro-Liga association .
When should you go to the doctor with a flat stomach?
It is not possible to say exactly when the increased air in the abdomen has a disease value. Ultimately, it depends on the personal level of suffering. “Many people live well with their flatulence and do not go to the doctor with it,” says Frieling. “Then these flatulence are not considered to be pathological.”
Flatulence does not always have to be harmless , however : If it occurs together with blood in the stool or other changes in the stool, or if it occurred very suddenly and possibly also includes weight loss, a slight fever or other symptoms, you should definitely see a doctor. “These are alarm signals,” says Frieling. They can also indicate a malignant disease. Therefore, such symptoms should always be clarified medically.
In addition, flatulence can also be a symptom of other diseases :
- a chronic inflammation of the pancreas in which too few digestive enzymes are produced
- the inflammatory bowel disease Crohn’s disease
- cirrhosis of the liver, in which the liver scars and shrinks.
It is therefore always a good idea to ask a doctor for advice in the event of unusually severe flatulence that does not go away on its own.