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Gas, Bloating and Flatulence (Diagnosis)

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

How gas and bloating is assessed by the doctors? When and what are the tests done?

Most people with gas and bloating do not need to have any test and are diagnosed by medical history and examination.

However when there are associated symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, blood in the stool, anemia, fever, or nausea or vomiting. These alarming signs could be due to more serious condition and require further diagnostic tests described later:

 

Medical history

For a medical history, your doctor will ask about

• Your symptoms

• Your eating habits

• Prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take

• Current and past medical conditions

Your doctor may ask you to keep a diary of the food you eat and when your gas symptoms occur. Your diary may show specific foods that are causing gas. Reviewing your diary may also help your doctor find out if you have more gas or are more sensitive to normal amounts of gas.

Physical exam

During a physical exam, your doctor may

• check for bloating in your abdomen

• use a stethoscope to listen to sounds within your abdomen

• tap on your abdomen to check for tenderness or pain

 

Tests may include:

1. Stool test for blood, fat, or parasite like giardia.

2. Hydrogen breath test: this is done to diagnose lactose intolerance. Here a person is made to drink lactose and the amount of hydrogen is calculated in the air expired by the person along with changes in his symptoms. Presence of excess of hydrogen and worsening of symptoms suggest the diagnosis of lactose intolerance.

3. X-ray abdomen: to see for abnormal distention of small intestine.

4. Endoscopy or colonoscopy: done to see for any abnormality inside the stomach or large intestine. It uses endoscope which is a thin tube with camera and instruments attached to it. The doctor can also take tissue samples for the lab test to confirm the diagnosis eg: celiac disease.

4. Blood tests: to look for 3 antibodies common in celiac disease:

• Anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies

• Endomysial antibodies (EMA)

• Deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies

Know more about antibody tests for celiac disease

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