What’s causing your digestive discomfort? The answer might not be straight forward

Everything -- from what you put in your morning coffee, to your gender -- can affect your digestive system. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON – It’s not exactly a conventional conversation starter, but after Dr. Robynne Chutkan was routinely pulled aside by inquisitive women at soccer games, the supermarket, dinner parties and the yoga studio, she decided to tackle the hush-hush topic of gas and discomfort from bloating.

“I think bloating is really significant because it’s the GI tract’s way of signaling its displeasure, that you’re doing something it’s not liking or something’s going on.”

“So I think it’s actually an important symptom to pay attention to,” says Chutkan, who is a gastroenterologist at Georgetown University Hospital and the founder of the Digestive Center for Women.

What causes gas and bloating? Chutkan says the list is endless. And one of the main differences comes down to anatomy. Sorry ladies, but women are more likely to experience bloating than men.

“As women, we have a longer colon than men — on average 10 centimeters longer. And that leads to a lot more twists and turns and redundancies in the colon that can cause not just bloating, but constipation and abdominal discomfort,” says Chutkan, who adds that hormonal level changes can also augment the symptoms.

After anatomy, Chutkan says the other the other factors are all equal in opportunity.

“There is a little known condition called air swallowing that can make you go up a pants size or two in just a day. There’s gluten sensitivity, leaky gut


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