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.