An upper endoscopy can be an uncomfortable procedure. For some patients, the discomfort associated with an upper endoscopy extends well after the exam is done. Excess gas is one of the most common side-effects of upper endoscopy due to the introduction of air into the stomach during the exam.
So, how do you get rid of gas after an upper endoscopy? Adopting dietary and lifestyle changes are two main ways to alleviate symptoms. Watching the foods you eat and how you eat certain foods can help manage gassiness after an endoscopy. Using over-the-counter gas relief medication is also a great solution to excess gas.
In this article, we talk about the science behind gas in the digestive system, as well as different ways on how to get rid of it.
Upper GI Endoscopy: Side Effects
An upper GI endoscopy (also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD) is performed to diagnose disorders and evaluate symptoms in the upper GI. This part of the gastrointestinal tract involves the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
Upper GI endoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure that is performed by inserting a long, thin, flexible tube called an endoscope through the patient’s mouth. This travels down to the small intestine for observation. A live feed of the body is projected on a computer screen.
Read more: A Complete Overview of Upper GI Endoscopy
It is common for patients to experience side-effects after an upper GI. These side-effects include:
- Bloating and gassiness
- Sore throat or general throat discomfort
- Abdominal cramping
- Grogginess from sedation
Gas and Upper Endoscopy: Why It Happens
Gas and abdominal bloating are common side-effects of an upper GI endoscopy. This is caused by the introduction of air into the stomach, which could cause discomfort immediately after the procedure.
Patients may report more frequent belching as a result of the procedure, which could be a cause for alarm for some patients. However, this is completely normal and will subside as the excess gas exits the body. Passing gas is a natural way of alleviating these symptoms. Patients may even pass gas 10-25 times a day immediately after the upper endoscopy.
We recommend staying away from large amounts of food if you are feeling gassy following your upper GI endoscopy. Consuming large amounts of food could only aggravate gassiness, leading to constipation. This is especially true for foods containing carbohydrates that are not properly digested in the small intestine.
Consume small meals 24-48 hours after your endoscopy to avoid experiencing constipation. You’re free to resume your regular meals afterwards.
What Causes Gas In the Body?
Digestion by Bacteria
Bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and other digestive microorganisms reside in the small intestine. These are responsible for breaking down various carbohydrates. The body has difficulty digesting a specific strain of carbohydrates characterized as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-sacchardies and polyols). Bacteria fermentation of FODMAPs lead to gas production, leading to flatulence.
Examples of foods high in FODMAPs are beans and dairy products. Individuals with lactose intolerance, for example, are especially sensitive to dairy products, leading to the production of excess gas.
It’s not just the food we eat that influences gassiness. Even eating behaviors and activities impact the amount of gas residing in the gut. For instance, eating big pieces of food such as bread mean more swallowed air.
Eaters who tend to chew and swallow food with open mouths tend to inhale more air than those who eat with their mouths closed. Using a straw and talking while eating are two other ways patients can inhale excess air during a meal. Being aware of your eating habits helps you understand what influences the amount of gas inside your stomach.
Is It Normal to Have Gas After an Upper Endoscopy?
Almost all patients experience gassiness after upper endoscopy. The symptoms of excess gas in the gastrointestinal system are:
- Abdominal bloating. Bloating is usually caused by problems with motility (movements of the intestinal muscles during digestion). However, an upper endoscopy could also cause some temporary bloating because of the excess gas in the GI tract.
- Flatulence. More frequent flatulence is to be expected with excess gas. Some patients report passing gas as frequently as 15 to 30 times a day because of gassiness.
- Abdominal discomfort. Excess gas trapped in the intestine can lead to abdominal pain. This discomfort might resemble pain associated with heart disease or pain associated with appendicitis and gallstones.
- Belching. Chronic and frequent belching is often a sign of a disorder such as chronic acid reflux (GERD). But for patients who have undergone an upper endoscopy, this is to be expected.
How Long Does Gas Last After Endoscopy?
Excess gas takes 2-4 days to be expelled from the body. This is possible through flatulence and belching. After a couple of days, patients should no longer experience gassiness.
If you still feel gassy a week after the procedure, we recommend getting in touch with a medical professional to ensure your GI tract is safe, especially if gassiness is accompanied by more serious symptoms.
Ways to Get Rid of Gas
Getting rid of excess gas after an upper endoscopy can be achieved at home. Below are some of the tried and tested remedies to relieve gassiness:
Exercise helps trapped gas move through your intestinal system. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise. Instead of lying down after a meal, take a 20-30 minute walk to exercise your body. Doctors recommend exercising for 20-30 minutes daily, but less frequent exercise is also acceptable in relieving the gut of excess gas.
2. Avoid Gum
Gum and similar snacks introduce air down to the stomach. If you are experiencing gassiness after an endoscopy, refrain from chewing gum for a couple of days so you don’t have to aggravate your current condition.
3. Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Soda, beer, and even sparkling water can all aggravate gassiness by introducing more air into the intestines. Stay away from these beverages and stick to flat drinks instead. We also suggest waiting a while before drinking fattier drinks like shakes since these can irritate the stomach after an endoscopy. Coffee and tea should be fine within 24 hours after upper endoscopy.
4. Eat Less Fatty
Fried foods, dairy products, and sugary foods are all culprits for excess gas. Although fat in food doesn’t cause gas, high-fat foods cause bloating and increase gassiness in the stomach.
5. Use Over-The-Counter Medicine
For instant relief, there are various over-the-counter medications patients can take. Alpha-galactosidase (BeanAssist, Beano) are specifically designed to aid in the digestion of beans and similar vegetables. This type of supplement has to be taken before a meal.
Other remedies such as simethicone (Gas-X) can eliminate the little gas bubbles in your stomach, making it easier for gas to pass through the digestive tract. Products with activated charcoal such as CharoCaps can also alleviate symptoms, but further research is required regarding the use of activated charcoal in eliminating excess gas.
6. Stop Smoking
The act of inhaling nicotine and exhaling smoke when smoking can also contribute to gassiness. Stay away from cigarettes 2-3 days after your upper endoscopy to prevent excess gas from entering your stomach.
Danger Signs: Symptoms to Watch Out For
Gas is a common and non-threatening side-effect to upper endoscopy. However, there are other symptoms that could occur after the exam that are signs of serious complications with the GI tract:
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Black or tarry stools
- Difficulty swallowing, feeling of something being lodged in the throat
- Vomiting accompanied by blood or black chunks
Get in touch with a medical professional once these signs become apparent.
Book an Endoscopy Today
At Gastro Center in New Jersey, we are equipped with the facilities to give you a comfortable upper endoscopy. Our medical professionals are trained to ensure that your side-effects are minimized after the procedure. Book an appointment with us today.