Why do I get such bad gas after eating?
February 17, 2006 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Why do I get such bad gas after eating? Lengthy explanation inside.

I am a healthy 20 year old male, who has been suffering from excessive gas for a few years now. I have done a lot of research on intestinal gas and I haven't been able to find anything helpful.

For 2 or 3 hours after eating, I will often suffer from excessive, highly odorous gas. As I said before, I have done a lot of research into the subject, but nothing seems to help. I eat slowly and chew well to avoid swallowing air. I don't drink carbonated beverages, I don't overeat, and I avoid laying down immediatly after eating. I have even tried using Beano, but I haven't seen any real results. I have tried recording my diet and the amount of gas I get after each meal, but I can't see any trends. One day I will eat a meal that causes horrible gas and a few days later I can eat the same meal and not have any. It usually seems to occur in cycles; I will go about a week without ever suffering from excessive gas, but then the next week I seem to get it after every meal. Just as a note, I have never gotten this excessive gas after breakfast. I almost always eat a bowl of raisin bran or mini-wheats in the morning.

I am almost positive that this gas has something to do with my food intake for a number of reasons. When I was living in the dorms on campus 2 years ago, I ate the cafeteria food for nearly every meal and never got any gas. The next year, I moved out on my own and was forced to cook for myself and have been getting this gas ever since. I have a pretty healthy diet and I am not eating any "problematic" foods in excess so I really can't pinpoint what about my food intake changed after I started eating on my own.

I don't think I am overblowing this problem; I don't know of a single other person who cannot be around people at certain times solely because their gas is so horrible. Aside from going to an intestinal doctor, do you have any helpful ideas on combatting this gas?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAD, probably worthless advice: it sounds like you've already ruled this out but are you sure it isn't something as simple as lactose intolerance?

Better advice: Reconsider seeking medical help. My bro had a similar problem (though not, apparently, as bad as yours -- yowzers!) which was solved by a visit to his campus health office, and then the doctor they referred him to.
posted by Opposite George at 11:16 AM on February 17, 2006

You don't mention what your healthy diet consists of, but if I were you, I'd start keeping an extremely detailed food diary, and then go to your doctor with it. S/he might send you to an allergist--this could very well be a sign of a food allergy. Flatulence is a symptom of all sorts of things--celiac disease and leaky gut syndrome spring to mind. (Though flatulence is only one of several other much less pleasant symptoms, so it's probably not one of those.)

If you don't have the money to see a doctor, then I'd recommend--after you've kept the diary for a week or two--subtracting things from your diet to see if you can determine what's causing the gas.
posted by veronica sawyer at 11:56 AM on February 17, 2006

You say you don't drink soda, but do you drink a lot of sweetened fruit juices or chew gum (particularly sugar-free)? Could be fructose or sorbitol intolerance.
posted by scody at 12:18 PM on February 17, 2006

I almost always eat a bowl of raisin bran or mini-wheats in the morning.

Wow, you nearly just answered your own question there. Get off the high-fiber cereal for 2 weeks, then report back.

Even though you say you don't get gas after breakfast, I don't think that means the high-fiber cereals aren't affecting your digestion throughout the day. In my opinion, these sorts of things (along with any excessive quantities of vegetables, or any vegetables that haven't been cooked until very well done) would be the first things to remove in trying to treat the flatulence.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:22 PM on February 17, 2006

rxrfrx has a good point. Swap out the bran cereals for oatmeal for a few weeks, and think about your fiber sources in general -- you may be getting too much insoluble fiber at the expense of adequate soluble fiber. You really need both for optimum digestion.
posted by scody at 12:30 PM on February 17, 2006

Most 20 year old guys would be ecstatic to have excessive gas. Anonymous, you must be a great catch.
posted by elisabeth r at 12:41 PM on February 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have this exact problem too.... it's from milk. Eliminate all milk and dairy from your diet for two or three days. If your problem goes away, that's it.

You don't even really have to change diet... just start taking lactase with your milk. Don't buy brand-name Lactaid, it's overpriced... the drugstore generics are excellent. I like the Ultra type. They're cheaper, because you only need 1 for most meals. The 'regular' kind takes 3 caps for the same effect.
posted by Malor at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2006

Sounds like an imbalance of microflora in your intestine.

I was on high dose oral ciprofloxin (a broad spectrum antibiotic - btw, are you taking anything like that?) for a while - killed a bunch of "good" gut bacteria and I had prodigious, severe, and odious gas. Went away after I stopped the cipro.

Ask your doctor about probiotics or eat some dirt.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:35 PM on February 17, 2006

chiming in again to say that PurplePorpoise's suggestion about probiotics (like acidopholus) is also a great one. Get a sufficient dosage (at least 1 billion organisms per capsule) and store it in the fridge. It's worth mentioning that acidopholus can actually increase gassiness for a couple of days when you start it, but don't be alarmed -- stick with it for a week or two and see if you get some results.
posted by scody at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2006

I don't think that the amount of fiber in Raisin Bran or Mini Wheats could be causing such severe gas, plus the problem is cyclical and the cereals are something you eat consistently.

There's a very good chance that your problem is related to a wheat or dairy intolerance, as others have suggested above. I would try cutting out all wheat and dairy for a few weeks. Then if that helps, you can add back one or the other to determine which is causing the problem.

Also, scody makes a great point -- if you chew gum or use artificial sugars for anything, it's a good idea to leave that stuff alone too. Sorbitol and malitol (which are found in most popular chewing gums, especially those super-strong icy-mint kinds) totally wreak havoc on my digestion. If I chew one piece of that type of gum, I have a stomachache for days.

Also, try and stick to simple whole foods where you can. If your digestive system is already stressed, you don't need a lot of hard-to-digest chemicals and additives to complicate things further. And if those things don't help, you could see a gastroenterologist or a dietitian. Good luck!
posted by wetpaint at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2006

More information here and here.

According to the Wikipedia article, "Medicinal charcoal tablets have also been reported as effective in reducing both odor and quantity of flatus when taken immediately prior to food that is likely to cause flatulence later." Maybe worth a try?
posted by iviken at 5:48 PM on February 17, 2006

I agree with the charcoal thing from personal experience.* Either enteric coated or not.

Note: not a permanent cure, but if you know you're going to be farty, save the people around you from the stink.

*Oh spicy indian curry, how I love thee, yet you make me reek like satans bottom
posted by lalochezia at 6:07 AM on February 18, 2006

Note: Charcoal passes through the gut undigested, don't be alarmed. It is, however, truly great stuff.
posted by deep_cover at 6:34 AM on February 18, 2006

Could be a pectin thing. Try avoiding apples and pears for a while. If this is the cause, you may find that you can tolerate some varieties but not others.

Otherwise, get tested/treatment for H. pylori. I know a few people who've eliminated gas problems this way.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:54 PM on February 19, 2006

« Older I got servered   |   Colon Cancer Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.