Expert Advice on Bloating

A recent article (AK Kamboj, AS Oxentenko. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16; 1030-33) provides some useful guidance on bloating.

They describe bloating as an acronym:

  • Bowel disturbance (constipation, SIBO, celiac, IBD)
  • Liquid (ascites)
  • Obstruction
  • Adiposity
  • Thoracic (overexpansion, diaphragm contraction)
  • Increased sensitivity (functional bloating, IBS, dyspepsia)
  • Neuromuscular (gastroparesis, impaired accommodation, medications)
  • Gas (aerophagia, dietary sources, post-Nissen)

The diagnostic approach they recommend:

  • If bloating with diarrhea, evaluate diet, SIBO, celiac, IBD, IBS-D, and medications
  • If bloating with constipation, evaluate for constipation, pelvic floor dysfunction, IBS-C, and medications
  • If bloating and suspected mechanical disturbance, evaluate for gastric outlet obstruction/small bowel obstruction
  • If bloating without bowel disturbance, consider aerophagia, gastroparesis, and functional dyspepsia

Treatment:

  • Treat any underlying disorder
  • For mild symptoms, reassurance may be sufficient
  • Dietary modifications to avoid food triggers & reduce fermentable food products
  • Treating constipation when present
  • A large number of other treatments can be considered as well including antispasmotics, agents to help with visceral hyperalgesia, cognitive behavioral therapy

My take: I like BLOATING acronym, though the 5 Fs I learned a long time ago is a little easier for me to remember — which include flatus (gas), feces (constipation), fluid, fat, and fetus/masses. Flatus can be caused by swallowing air (aerophagia), malabsorption (celiac, lactose intolerance, parasites), muscular discoordination (abdominal phrenic dyssynergia), and motility problems.”

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