When you are having trouble passing stool, then you’re most likely experiencing constipation. Most often, constipation occurs with abdominal pain and bloating due to gas build-up in the colon. It is normal to feel uncomfortable when you’re experiencing constipation with painful gas.
However, it is still important to know when to see a doctor in case feeling gassy starts to worry you.
Constipation and gas pain
You normally feel gassy when you swallow air when eating or drinking, and when the bacteria in your colon starts feeding on undigested carbohydrates in your stool.
The process of fermentation of undigested food makes gas, such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane.
The gas from your upper digestive tract is expelled through the esophagus (belching), while the gas from your lower digestive tract is passed through the rectum (flatulence).
However, when you’re constipated, it may become difficult for gas to pass the rectum since the stool is blocking the passage.
When stool stays longer in the colon, the bacteria will continue with the fermentation process, making you feel gassier.
Once the gas trapped in the colon builds up, it will begin to cause bloating, discomfort, and pain.
Other causes of gas and gas pain
Aside from swallowing air, the bacteria in your colon, and constipation with painful gas, here are other possible reasons for painful gas.
Food and drinks
- Beans, peas, lentils
- Fruits such as apples, mangoes, oranges, pears, and watermelon
- Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and asparagus
- Whole grains
- Starchy foods like corn, potatoes, noodles, and wheat
- Carbonated drinks, like sodas and beer
- You swallow more air when you eat too fast, using a straw when drinking, chewing a piece of gum, or when you talk or constantly open your mouth while chewing.
- Taking certain fiber supplements that contain psyllium can cause gassiness.
- Adding sugar substitutes in your meals such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol may cause gas.
- Constipation makes it difficult for colon gas to pass through.
- Food intolerances such as lactose intolerance (carbohydrate in dairy products), gluten intolerance (protein in wheat, barley, and rye), and fructose malabsorption increase the gas in your colon, resulting in abdominal pain.
- Autoimmune pancreatitis, where the immune system attacks healthy pancreatic cells could be a cause of gas pain.
- Celiac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to gluten, which then damages the small intestines.
- Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that triggers inflammation in the digestive tract.
Symptoms of gas and constipation with painful gas
If you feel the following signs and symptoms, then you’re most likely experiencing gas build-up and gas pain:
- Belching and flatulence
- Discomfort or cramping pain in the abdomen
- Feeling “stuffed” or full in the abdomen (bloating)
- Abdominal distention or the expansion of the abdomen due to gas or fluid build-up
When to see your doctor?
Normally, gassiness and painful gas only lasts for about 24 to 48 hours. However, in some cases, the discomfort might last for about a week or maybe even longer.
See your doctor if constipation with painful gas persists or if it’s accompanied by these symptoms:
- Persistent and severe gas pain or abdominal pain
- Recurrent nausea or vomiting
- Bloody stool
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
It is best to get immediate medical attention if you notice if these symptoms are making your gas pains unbearable.
If left untreated, gas pain might lead to more serious digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
How to treat gas and gas pains?
Most often, gas pain goes away by belching or flatulence. However, if constipation and other health conditions have been causing your gas problems, then it is advisable to treat and address that specific health problem.
To treat gas and gas pain you can also:
Change your diet and eating habits
- Talk to your doctor about high-fiber foods so you can still get your daily dietary fiber intake without worsening your gas pains.
- If you are lactose intolerant, avoid consuming dairy products and try lactose-free substitutes. You can also take lactase to aid digestion.
- Avoid or limit the use of sugar substitutes or find other alternatives.
- Refrain from consuming too much fat since it can worsen gas problems.
- Limit indulging in carbonated drinks like soda, beer, and other fizzy drinks.
- Consult your doctor before trying any kind of fiber supplement.
- Stay hydrated to help with constipation and gas pain.
- Eat slowly. Don’t talk while eating and chew your food properly.
- Have smaller portions of your regular meals to see what food makes you gassy.
- Refrain from chewing a piece of gum, drinking from a straw, and sucking on hard candy, as these can make you swallow more air.
- For people with dentures, check with your dentist to see if your dentures are tight-fitting. Loose dentures cause you to swallow air when eating or drinking.
- Avoid smoking, since inhaling the smoke can increase the gas in your stomach. Also, the tobacco in cigarettes can irritate your digestive tract, causing bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.
- Exercise regularly or be consistent in doing physical activities as it can help prevent constipation. Staying active can help reduce the chances of gas build-up and pain.
Having constipation with painful gas will continue to cause recurrent discomfort when left untreated. But treating constipation right away will greatly help make the gas pains go away or prevent them altogether.
Most importantly, gas pain can be further prevented by sticking to a well-balanced, nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Learn more about Constipation, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.