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Do you have gas?

Posted on June 29th, 2007 by Alison Read 17 Comments - Add Your Own »

doyouhavegas1.jpgPrilosec, Nexium, Rolaids, Tums, Gas-X, Mylanta, Di-Gel, Pepto-Bismol – these are just a few of the medications people take for gas, reflux, heartburn and stomach aches. Ads for these drugs are plastered all over magazines and TV, making these common problems seem normal. “Burning stomach again? Take one of these!” One website I found claims that it is normal to pass gas up to 20 times a day!

In my opinion, people should not be led to believe that digestive problems are normal. I believe that they can be resolved with a change in diet and that the above medications may not be necessary at all for many people. I feel quite confident in saying this because of my and my family’s experiences, which I am about to share with you… (thanks mom and dad!)

I used to have gas. As embarrassing as that is for me to say, it is not as embarrassing as sitting in a shared office at work every day hoping my bloated belly wouldn’t give way. I can talk about this now because I used to have gas. Once on a gluten-free diet, no more bloating, no more stomach aches, no more gas. Seriously – almost none, unless I accidentally ingest gluten.

My dad the pediatrician used to have gas. Throughout his life he was the not-so-proud recipient of numerous gag gifts related to flatulence – we thought that he was just a gassy person (like it was part of his personality or something!) Then he went gluten-free. No more gas. Think of all the gifts he could have received instead…

My mom used to have heartburn and gas. She had a big container of Di-Gel and munched on it after dinner like it was candy. Same story… no more gluten, no more gas.

My sister-in-law’s baby had gas. She stopped eating gluten while breastfeeding. Her baby stopped having gas.

Enough examples? I could go on and on with just people I know, but I will spare you any more details. My point in sharing this personal information is to raise the question: why are we popping pills to treat the symptoms, instead of identifying the cause of the symptoms?

Here are a few reasons that I can see why people take medication instead of change their diet:

  1. It is easier to take a pill than to change a diet.
  2. Pharmaceutical companies make money from selling drugs. These companies educate (and wine and dine) doctors and give them samples. No one is calling on the doctor’s office to teach them about the effects of gluten on the body – there’s no money in that.
  3. Doctors are generally not trained in diet management and don’t have the time to spend on it. Their job is to make their patients feel better, which these medications can do.
  4. There is a lack of awareness, and often a disbelief by everyone, doctors included, that a change in diet can have such a drastic effect.
  5. People don’t know how to identify the offending food. Confusing advice doesn’t help – differing sources will say it’s certain vegetables, beans, sugar, or fiber. Maybe these can cause gas, but if it’s frequent, painful, or odorous, look at gluten and dairy first.

If you suspect something in your diet is causing you distress, see your doctor and make it clear that you want to identify the cause, not just take medication. If you suspect gluten, ask about getting tested for celiac disease. It should be noted that of the people mentioned above, I am the only one who tested positive for celiac disease. Either their tests were inaccurate or they have some form of gluten intolerance. If you suspect other foods, ask about food allergy testing, or see a nutritionist to help you try an elimination diet. Good luck!

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  1. Hi,

    I totally agree with this article. I always say that and I get looks from people as if I’m some kind of idiot. It is so annoying.

    Separately, I read a past article where you said you were not giving gluten to your children. I am doing the same. I am wondering how to get them tested for Celiac in the future. I did blood tests for the genes, but those tests don’t carry much weight. From what I got from doctors, the only way to test is to give gluten for months, and then do a blood test or biopsy. You know alot, so I am asking you what you think.


    Beth Ward

  2. Beth,
    The past post was “Why are my kids gluten-free?”.
    You are right – there is no way to test for celiac disease unless someone is eating gluten (or getting enough of it by accident). Doctors are not even sure how long a person, or a child, would need to consume gluten before showing a positive blood test or biopsy. For some children, it could take years for damage to happen. Even then, a person could still test negative for celiac but actually have it, or have gluten intolerance.
    Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to the question of whether to keep children of celiacs gluten-free, although I think most doctors would say give gluten until they show symptoms (I don’t agree). I have asked the opinions of several pediatric gastroenterologists who are well-known in the celiac world, and they have not been able to tell me the right thing to do, because no one knows. I think you will have to trust your motherly instinct on this one. That’s what I am doing!

  3. I also have had an amazing turn around, no more gas and bloat since I went gluten free/ I always suspected that my love of bread was tied to my severe indigestion {currently have been relying on Prilosec), and plan to wean off to see if gluten is the culprit for that also. I suspected it is, because my heartbutn has always appeared to be tied to the ingestion of wheat.What is strange is that my craving for bread has disappeared since I stopped eating it.My gasterontologist prescribed an anti-gas medication. After looking up the side affects, I decided against it. I am glad I tried other options.

  4. I’ve been gluten free for about a month and a half. For 13 years I had unexplained severe edema, gas, hospitalizing constipation, the works. Doctors told me I had IBS and tossed me out the door with laxative after laxative.

    I have never been tested for Celiac disease, but as soon as I stopped eating gluten, the edema is almost entirely gone, gas is almost non-existent and rarely “offensive”, and as long as I’m eating fruit, constipation really isn’t a problem.

    People still roll their eyes when I insist that they not do anything to contaminate my food, but I see no problem being proactive about my well being. They would as well if they were in my shoes, or if it were their children suffering from the same thing. Stick with it everyone! We’re not crazy!

  5. Hi,
    I had bad gas for years and finally figured out that it was Gluten related. I have to bring my lunch every day but it is worth it.

  6. So nice to see that others have suffered the affliction of bloatiness and gas and discovered as well that the culprit was gluten.
    I lost weight and in order to maintain the losses, I found out I am pretty ‘carb sensitive’ which then translated into not eating many bread items etc. Wow, immediate change in my gaseous condition! And also after trying gluten free muffins etc., I see that I am not affected the same way as with any regular ‘wheat’ or ‘oat’ muffins.
    Kind of a blessing in disguise to find out about this gluten connection. The weight stays off when I stay away from it!

  7. Hi

    I’m having a real problem with excessive gas that I can’t hold in. How quickly does a gluten free diet help?


  8. I have really bad gas, it gets into my ribs, my back, my shoulders and its really painful. I have started a Gluten Free diet 1 week ago, hoping it will help….

  9. I would like to know the answer to Jo’s question. how long does it take to feel better after getting rid of gluten and wheat from your diet?

  10. I have just recently started a diet for ibs, which is working beautifully, but I have constant gas-with pain. I eat no meat and no dairy, but a lot of breads and pasta. I am wondering if the problem could be gluten. I am looking into it. I would love any info on eating gluten free. No one should have to worry about living life because of gas-all the time!

  11. Went gluten free in order to help with symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. To my amazement (and that of my family) the unbelievable gas I have lived with for 46 years went away! My mother would constantly tell me there was something wrong with. Me, she was joking ……who knew. My bloating went away and I feel my thinking is more clear! I do feel my joints ache less as well!

  12. I’m having a lot of problems with gas. Do you have a
    Facebook page or something where we can
    Get information from each other and support
    Each other. I went on a diet and lost 80lbs but
    Since going off all my problems
    Came back. Thx

  13. July 2012 I was put on a lactose gluten free diet. My stomach looked like a basketball. I immediately lost 20 lbs, but have maintained my weight. I was not a gassy person prior to this diet, but I am all the time now with such a horrific odor. Can you help me with what is going on? Thanks!

  14. Hope,
    Pay attention to what you are eating. I found that when I went gluten-free, I still had gas when I ate soy. Once I cut out soy, I was fine. So you may have another sensitivity that is causing the gas.

  15. I have tried no soy. Also no fructose. It is very annoying since I never had to deal with it prior to this diet. I thank you for your response.

  16. Hey
    Iv suffered with gas and bloating for a few years now, only just getting tested for celiac, have you got any advice for me please x

  17. Hey

    I have been gluten free for 6 months. I have always struggled with headaches, lack of energy and what I didn’t realize until now is that I also struggled with gas and bloating. I thought it was normal to be gassy throughout the day. I often had stomach pains at work from holding it in to avoid any embarrassment. Well, I had no idea that living without all that pain and suffering was an option. I do still pass gas from time to time but it seems so rare and odourless that it is never a thing I think about anymore. Also, no more headaches and I go throughout my day with much more energy. Gluten free is tough at the beginning but totally worth it!

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