Gas, Bloating: Always Uncomfortable?
Medications can calm spastic colon
Many people with mild cases don't ever see a doctor for their problem.
"There's much controversy about whether this is a real disease," Gore
tells WebMD. "It's all about spastic colon. For some reason, in some
people, the colon starts behaving erratically."
Prescription medications like Prilosec, Zantac, and Pepcid can
"calm" the spasms that cause colon problems. Antidepressants seem to
help control the pain, Gore adds. Pain, antidiarrheal, and anti-gas medications
are available over the counter and there are two prescription therapies --
Lotronex and Zelnorm -- that may help some women with the disease.
But Gore's study found that these work for only one-third of
gas-and-bloating sufferers. "Many more were saying that they weren't
working," she tells WebMD.
Most people try to figure it all out on a trial-and-error basis, Gore adds.
"Most patients alter their diets -- if they have constipation, they start
eating a lot of fiber; if they have diarrhea they stop drinking coffee, stop
For some people, it's a quality-of-life issue, she says. "Some people
have been suffering for a year. Some don't 'go' for weeks at a time. Some have
had to miss a lot of workdays. People are suffering. The pharmaceutical
companies need to get products developed for these people."
The worst-case scenario: gas and bloating might signal colon cancer or
inflammatory bowel disease, but people with those conditions usually also
experience weight loss, blood in the stool, and anemia, adds Radhika
Srinivasan, MD, a gastrointestinal specialist and assistant professor of
medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.