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Bloated

Everyone experiences a little indigestion and bloating from time to time. Did you know that it’s very common for people with chronic lung disease to experience frequent abdominal bloating? What’s not so normal however, is to actually become so distended that it impairs your ability to breath effectively, but that’s what was happening to me.

Everything I ate or drank was bloating me like you wouldn’t believe. For a while there I thought I was going to explode…Literally! The bloating along with my already hyperinflated lungs was making it extremely difficult for me to breath , so a couple weeks ago I decided I’d better get it checked out.

At first I thought it might be diet related, or possibly even a food allergy. To my knowledge though, I don’t have a gluten allergy (though most people actually do and don’t know it). I do however eat an almost all-organic diet with emphasis on high fiber fruits and veggies, which of course can cause bloating. But why would these symptoms come on all of a sudden? My diet hasn’t changed in 8 months.

Well, after having a ton of blood work and other tests done, turns out my lipase and amylase levels were sky high, which pointed to some kind of pancreatitis. And one of the major symptoms of pancreas problems is, bingo…. Abdominal Bloating!

One of the things that can happen when your pancreas isn’t working correctly, is that your body has a hard time digesting fats and sugars. The pancrease produces a special enzyme called Lipase that’s used to break down fat into smaller fatty acids. High levels of lipase usually denotes a problem with the pancreas itself; however, elevated lipase levels can also be a symptom of a host of other disorders as well, including high cholesterol , of which I have a long history of.

Anyways, 7 days later they re-checked by lipase level and thank goodness it was totally normal again. Whatever was going on with my pancreas seems to have corrected itself. Because I wasn’t experiencing the pain normally associated with acute pancreatitis, they wanted do a CT scan to make sure I don’t have the chronic form of the disease , or worse. Except for an enlarged liver, the CT came back normal, So the mystery still remains. What is causing my bloating?

Diagnosing the cause of abdominal bloating in a person with chronic lung disease is tricky, because most of us have some degree of air-trapping, which can contribute, mimic or intensify the symptoms of abdominal bloating. I guess the best thing to do if you frequently experience any of these conditions, is to review your diet and loose a little weight, even if you’re not very overweight to begin with. If that doesn’t work , have your pancreas and liver checked to make sure you don’t have something more serious.

Update In the 3 years that have passed since I originally wrote this post and after countless dietary tweaks, I finally found what I believe was/is the cause of my abdominal bloating. As I kinda always expected, it has to do with gluten. Like most people, I dont’ have full on celiac disease, but what I do have is a very heightened sensitivity to gluten. Not surprising when you consider that most asthmatics are sensitive to multiple things. Since reducing my intake to wheat based products, Ive had virtually no problem with severe bloating. And to proof this point, every time I fall off the wagon for more than a day or two, the bloating comes back with a vengeance. Looking back on my previous eating habits, as healthy as I thought they were, I was consuming too much gluten.

My advise to anyone suffering from bloating issues, is to lay off the breads pasta and all cereals products, even oatmeal, for a week or so and see if that helps. I bet you’ll feel 100% better.

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4 thoughts on “Bloated

  1. that bloating sounds terrible…and I'm glad you found out what it was from…and hopefully, the scans just show that you hand an acute attack, and it's not chronic, or worse.

  2. Very very interesting. Relieved you have things more under control and this acute phase has diminished more or less, naturally-I know pancreatitis is very painful. I didn't however know you were suffering from high cholesterol and on statins. I've recently been told I need to get my high cholesterol down. Of course, cutting out the fats has resulted in too much weight loss and I'm desperately in need of help from my dietician with this! I'm not on prescribed statins, just OTC Benecol. It's my years of eating high fat to keep my weight stable that has pushed my cholesterol up. It seems with lung disease we get these added extras that we just can't seem to control.
    I'll be monitoring your progress as it is very interesting hearing how you are dealing with this sub-section of disease.
    Flax is very good for you but ouch, I bet it causes agonising stomach wind!
    You take care….xx

    1. I love the way the English speak. Stomach Wind .. ( So polite:-)

      What\’s troublesome, is that I had none of the typical pain associated with acute pancreatitis, and thats why they wanna do more tests to make sure I dont have something worse.

      As far as the high cholesterol goes, mine is probably hereditary as I don\’t eat a fatty diet. Ive been on Zocor for 16 years. My total cholesterol still runs about 300 WHILE ON MEDS. My triglycerides and HDL are good, but my LDL ( bad cholesterol) is still way too high. Steroids probably have a lot to do with this ( as they do with everything).

      Unlike you , I have a problem keeping the weight off ( again probably the steroids). I burn a tons of calories exercising, but I still have to watch everything I eat.

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