Are Chronic Diarrhea, Gas, and Bloating Normal?
Do you have a noisy, bloated belly? Do you find yourself running to the bathroom frequently? If you’ve struggled with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms for a while, you may just be “living with it” and not realizing that some GI symptoms are not considered normal. Chronic diarrhea, excessive gas, and bloating are GI symptoms that may range from mild and bothersome, to severe and impacting daily life.
Chronic diarrhea is defined as loose stools that persist for at least four weeks. Chronic diarrhea is not a normal GI symptom and is typically caused by an underlying condition. Diarrhea can be very inconvenient and significantly disrupt your life.
The many causes for chronic diarrhea include, but are not limited to, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and infections. Chronic diarrhea warrants a visit to your physician’s office if it persists for more than four weeks. Listen to your body. If you feel that your GI symptoms are significant enough, a visit to the doctor may be needed sooner rather than later.
Depending on how frequently it occurs, gas can be a normal GI symptom. You get rid of gas by belching or by passing it through the rectum. It is estimated that most of us pass gas 14 to 23 times per day.
What causes gas? Well, some foods are not digested completely by the body. Therefore, the bacteria living in your colon ferment these foods and produce gas as a byproduct. Moreover, swallowing air throughout the day through chewing, smoking, or using a straw can increase gas production.
Although bothersome, gas is typically not cause for concern. Those of you with certain GI conditions may produce more gas due to food triggers. For example, if you have CSID resulting in Sucrose Intolerance, you may produce excess gas when you eat sucrose-containing foods.
CSID is a disorder that causes a decrease in the activity of the enzymes sucrase and isomaltase that are vital for the breakdown and absorption of sucrose (sugar). Without these enzymes, proper digestion of sucrose cannot take place and may lead to an increase in gas production.
Bloating is an annoying and sometimes painful GI symptom that is not always caused by gas production. In fact, many cases of bloating are caused by abnormal movements of the intestinal muscles. Moreover, conditions like IBD, IBS, and CSID can contribute to abdominal bloating. Some of you develop bloating after eating specific types of foods like cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and cauliflower. Others, specifically those of you with Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID, can develop bloating after eating foods rich in sucrose such as carrots, apples, or grain products.
It is important to listen to your body and track your GI symptoms. You know your body best. If your symptoms impact your daily life or if they are getting progressively worse, be sure to contact your physician and take this quiz to help you identify if CSID could be a possible cause of your GI symptoms.