Causes of bloating; colon cancer risks

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Q. I often feel bloated. What could be causing it and what can I do for relief? Brandy G., Southgate

A. Bloating could be caused by various factors: your diet or specific foods you are eating, swallowing too much air while you are awake or asleep, the presence of the H. pylori bacterium in your stomach, gastritis, constipation and typically less likely, small bowel bacterial overgrowth. If your bloating is acute (lasts only 2 or 3 days), try over-the-counter GasX or the newer one, Phazyme. Avoid foods that make you bloated (like artificial sweeteners, cheese, carbonated beverages, etc.), eat fiber-rich foods and stay hydrated to promote regular bowel movements. If none of these suggestions help, see your doctor.

Q. What can I do to help my doctor treat my Crohn’s disease? Edward M., Belleville

A. Be diligently compliant with all of your physician-prescribed medications and instructions — this is very important. Avoid smoking, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain-relievers (NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofin, naproxin) and monitor your diet. Do not eat what makes your stomach hurt — especially dairy products and red meat.

Q. If someone has had breast cancer, are they at higher risk for colon cancer? Nancy L., Westland

A. When genetics are the cause of the breast cancer, it is possible that there is also a genetic link and higher risk for ovarian and colon cancer. If the breast cancer was found to be environmental, there should not be any additional risk. Having your screening colonoscopy, beginning at age 50 (or earlier if you have any family history of the disease), in most cases, can prevent colon cancer altogether.

Rana Sabbagh, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and nutrition. She is the founder of GastroCenter of Michigan and Experior Weight Loss Clinic, 23500 Park St., Suite 2B in Dearborn. Do you have a health question for Dr. Sabbagh? Submit it by email to: askthedoctor@cscmi.net.

All information provided in Ask The Doctor is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with your personal doctor or pharmacist for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information you have read in any publication.