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Ask the Advocates: Bloating

We asked our advocate team about bloating and COPD, including tips to reduce bloating. Check out their answers below, and comment with your own answers!

Advocate tips to manage bloating with COPD:

Michelle

It surprised me to learn that COPD affects more than just my lungs. I learned about bloating the hard way. There are several reasons why people with COPD suffer from it. And I do mean suffer. Bloating is really painful and I do everything I can do to avoid it. Here are my prevention tips:

  1. I have a prescription for an acid inhibitor called Prilosec. It treats my GERD – which a lot of COPD patients also have.
  2. I eat smaller meals. I have learned to take smaller portions for each meal and I also quit eating when I just start feeling full, not when I'm already full. Someone told me a good way to think about it: Eat until you're no longer hungry.
  3. I try to have the correct posture. Used to be you could find me slumped over my desk, my chair, my couch, slouching as I walked. Now I pretend I'm in a British Finishing School and a nanny is behind me with a ruler ready to whack me for bad posture. It works.
  4. I exercise. I try to take a walk every day. It makes me feel better.

There are more things I should do to help avoid bloating that I haven't managed yet.

  1. I still drink soda, eat salty foods, and fried foods. Not every day, or every week, but I haven't completely given them up. I don't think I ever will. For me, life is too short to go without the tastes I love.
  2. I still eat broccoli, cabbage, apples, peaches, lettuce, onions, and dairy products. These are foods that are known to cause bloating in some people, but, again, they are some of my favorites. So, because life is too short, I'll continue to eat them.

Read Michelle's bio here!

Kevin

Every so often, it’s a little more difficult to button the top of the jeans and the usual belt loop is way too tight.

The mind retraces the eating and food.

(Did I binge eat last night in my sleep? Dare I look in the freezer and see if that gallon of Rocky Road is still there? I’m almost afraid to look!)

But nothing has changed. The ice cream remains untouched. But something has definitely happened to the size of my stomach.

Bloating!

As if there wasn’t enough trouble already. And there seem to be as many theories about the origins of bloating for COPD patients as there are COPD patients!

Fortunately, in my case anyway, the bloating doesn’t stay too long. And there’s a couple of remedies some friends who are way better versed in health foods and generally healthier eating than me have provided.

Probiotic Acidophilus - Supports Digestive Intestinal & Immune Health

Probiotics have long been used to treat bowel problems, lactose intolerance, and urinary tract infections. They are naturally found in foods such as yogurt, milk, juices, soy beverages.

They also come as dietary supplements (mine are chewable tablets) and, as always, I run these things past my pulmonologist for an “OK” before using any of them.

Other dietary guidelines to reduce bloating I’ve seen are:

  1. Eat one serving of cultured yogurt daily.
  2. Drink plenty of water daily.
  3. Stay away from carbonated beverages.
  4. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

Inactivity, diet, “long lungs,” can also contribute. See this terrific article: COPD and Bloating: Why and What to Do.

Read Kevin's bio here!

Karen

Mom often experienced bloating, which made her feel like her lungs were being pressed. It caused anxiety when she couldn't get a full breath. We worked on diet first. We started by cooking any gas producing veggies, such as onions, or cauliflower. This seemed to make them produce less bloating. Her salads still had good greens, but she no longer ate broccoli, bell peppers, or anything else that might cause gas. Spicy foods were a favorite, and she found that by reducing the heat, her stomach didn't push into her lungs as much. She even had to watch out for high fiber brans in her bread and cereals. She didn't eliminate them entirely. Instead, by drinking sufficient water with brans, she was able to stay regular with her bowel movements. The combination of reducing the amount of gas causing foods, and cooking them, helped her bloating. Finding a balance was not a quick fix, and it was something that she had to pay attention to. Her new habits helped her lose a few pounds which also made her more comfortable.

Read Karen's bio here!

John

Gas and bloating can make you feel full. When your stomach is full, it may push up on your diaphragm, which takes up space for your lungs to expand. This can make you feel short of breath. The best way to manage bloating is attempts to avoid it. Many dietitians recommend people with COPD eat 4-6 smaller meals rather than 3 larger ones. Fried foods like fried chicken and french fries can cause gas and bloat. So, it may be a good idea to avoid fried foods, or at least minimize your consumption of them. Carbonated beverages may also cause gas and bloating. A good replacement here is water. If you continue to have gas and bloating despite your best efforts to prevent it, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

Read John's bio here!

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