Upset stomach got you down? Gas, bloating, and bathroom
problems are a constant battle for many people -- often the symptoms are
related to diet, but there are some more serious medical conditions that may be
Most people know that beans, broccoli, and onions can cause
gas, but what most people don't suspect are fruits, sodas, and milk. Fructose
(a sugar found in fruits and sodas) and lactose (a sugar found in dairy
products) are common causes of gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, and
Lactose intolerance is extremely common. It is estimated that
30 to 50 million Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance. Certain
racial and ethnic populations are more affected than others, including 75% of
African Americans, Jews, Hispanics, and Native Americans, and 90% of
Fructose intolerance is also common, but less recognized. A
study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of
Gastroenterology in Seattle by University of Kansas researcher Peter Beyer, RD,
finds that nearly half of normal people get gas from fructose. This common
fruit sugar is found in fruit juice and is used as a sweetener in some soft
Experts suggest that you keep a diary of foods that you eat and
their relation to your symptoms and take that information to your doctor.
Careful review of diet and the amount of gas passed may help relate specific
foods to symptoms and determine the severity of the problem.
In addition, there are tests your doctor can perform to
diagnose lactose and fructose intolerance. In fact, because of how common it
is, Beyer suggests that people with these symptoms should get breath tests to
see if fructose is the root cause of the problem.
But other researchers think that many cases of gas, bloating,
and bathroom problems may be related to another condition: irritable bowel
Mugdha Gore, PhD, an independent researcher based in
Philadelphia, has studied the issue. In a survey of more than 650 people
diagnosed with intestinal disorders, she found that the majority had IBS -- and
were getting no relief from medications.
She presented her report this week at the annual meeting of the
American College of Gastroenterology in Seattle.
Indeed, IBS is one of the most common intestinal disorders, and
can be difficult to diagnose, says Gore. For many people, the symptoms
alternate frequently. While gas and bloating are the constants, there may be
abdominal pain or discomfort, plus altered bowel habits -- people may be
constipated one week, have diarrhea the next, or have a sudden urge to have a
bowel movement. The pattern varies from person to person, she says.
Experts don't know the exact cause of IBS, but suspect it may
be triggered by stress, hormones, and nerve signal disruptions in the