One of my most common complaints, though not a serious health issue, is constipation. Now, I realise that to actually have a diagnosis of constipation it should be a change in bowel pattern, such that it is not normal to myself. Everyone’s bowel habits are different – some go twice a day, while others may not go more than once a week. I fall somewhere in between, but there are other symptoms I suffer when I know I have constipation. One of those symptoms is bloating. And last night was one of those severe nights of bloating.
I was unable to sleep because every position was uncomfortable. I felt I needed to vomit to release everything inside my stomach. The stretching of the bowels was painful and as I rubbed my belly for comfort, it felt like I was distended from pregnancy. A large, loud burp relieved some of the pain and distention, but immediately, it would build up again. I had to sit, leaning forward to ease some of the pain.
In the past, I would turn to liquid antacids for relief. It did not always help and for many years, I have taken nothing. Yet, last night I was wishing for some. I had to turn to a peppermint lozenge. Why? Because I know that mints are one of the no-nos for people who suffer from acid reflux. (It may be that I have a problem with acid reflux due to my love of mints, which may be the culprit for all this bloating.) However, I understand that the mechanism of action is that mints lower the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, that muscle that separates the end of the esophagus and the stomach. This muscle relaxes in order to allow food to enter the stomach and contracts to prevent food from returning to the esophagus. Mints act to relax the muscle, which exacerbates acid reflux. However, I felt I needed it to relax to release all the trapped air. Whether or not it worked, or whether the gas finally dissolved on its own, I cannot say. But, I do know that eventually, I felt sufficiently comfortable to return to bed.
Now, I’ve tried to identify the triggers for the bloating, but it never is constant. I can be eating the same thing day after day and not have a problem and then bang! I’m bloated. The one thing I can associate it with is constipation. If the bowels are blocked up at one end, gas cannot pass through that end. So, when I feel bloated, I try to burp. Excessive burping warns me that my bowels are blocked.
People may not find passing gas very pleasant, but it is a necessary and vital part of life. Kids love it, though – they think it’s hilarious. Now, one should be careful not to encourage them to fart too loudly in public or amongst crowds, but one should not discourage them from relieving themselves when necessary, either. They should do it tactfully and others should tactfully try to ignore it.