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Better digestion

This book helps in identifying, managing and preventing digestive disorders.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 15:02 IST

Mayo Clinic on Digestive Health
Author/Editor: Various/John E. King, M.D.
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orient Paperbacks
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 198
ISBN: 81-222-0364-7

This easy-to-understand book from Mayo Clinic focuses on a variety of digestive symptoms, including heartburn, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea, and common conditions that are often responsible. It's a comprehensive guide to understanding why digestive problems occur, what you can do to manage or prevent them and when you should see a doctor.

The book covers the topics such as everyday digestive hazards, problem foods and how to identify and avoid them, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, strategising stress reduction, self-care tips, safe administration of medication, symptoms of serious illness and the latest in diagnostic tests.

Here is an extract from the section titled "Belching, bloating and intestinal gas":

Build-up of air and gas in your digestive tract is a natural part of the digestive process. When you swallow food, you often swallow air with it. Too much air in your digestive tract can lead to belching or passage of gas from your rectum (flatulence). Another source of gas formation is food residue in your colon. Bacteria naturally present in your colon begin to ferment the undigested food particles, producing gas and bloating.

It’s natural to pass gas or to experience occasional discomfort from gas or air build-up. Excessive belching, bloating or gas, however, can be a persistent source of embarrassment and discomfort.

Belching, or burping, is your body’s way of expelling excess air that you swallow while eating or drinking. This can happen from eating too fast, talking while you eat or drinking carbonated beverages.

When you belch, air from your stomach is forced into your oesophagus and out of your mouth. Some people who belch repeatedly – even when they’re not eating or drinking – swallow air as a nervous habit. Belching can also result from reflux of acid from your stomach into your oesophagus. To clear the material from the oesophagus, you may swallow frequently, which leads to more intake of air and further belching.

To reduce belching, you want to swallow less air. These suggestions can help:

Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the less air you swallow.
Cut down on carbonated drink and beer. They contain air.
Avoid gum and hard candy. When you suck on hard candy or chew gum, you swallow more often than normal. Part of what you’re swallowing is air.
Don’t use a straw. You swallow more air this way than you do when you drink from a glass.
Don’t smoke. When you inhale smoke, you also inhale and swallow air.
Check your dentures. Loose-fitting dentures can cause you to swallow excess air while you drink or eat.

If these steps don’t improve your symptoms, see your doctor to rule out more serious conditions associated with belching, such as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Gastritis.

First Published: Sep 12, 2006 15:02 IST