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Your medical and diet history will be considered to evaluate the causes of abdominal bloating. Your doctor may order various diagnostic tests for confirming gastrointestinal diseases or presence of gas that cause abdominal bloating. These include:
Imaging tests: Large amount of air present in the stomach and intestinemay be visible in the X-ray images. Your doctor may also order a barium test to determine small intestinal obstructions which will show up on the X-rays. If abdominal distension is caused due to enlarged organs, tumours or abdominal fluids; it can be detected with computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or an abdominal ultrasound.
Maldigestion and malabsorption tests: Your doctor may order two different tests to detect faulty digestion of food. The stool samples may be collected for 72 hours and amount of fat in the stoolswill be analysed.Diseases such as celiac disease or pancreatic insufficiency may increase the amount of fat in the stool.
Hydrogen/Methane breath tests: This test may be ordered to evaluate maldigestion and malabsorptionas well as bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. The colonic bacteria produce hydrogen when they are exposed to undigested food. Failure of your small intestine to digest and absorb the foodleaves a large quantity of undigested food to enter the colonwhich produces large amount of hydrogen.
Your doctor will allow you to consume a test sugar (lactose, glucose, sorbitol, or fructose) and analyse your breath samples at regular intervals. Hydrogen or methane is produced by the bacteria when the sugar reaches the colon. This causes absorption of the gas into your blood stream andis measured through your breath. If you have bacterial overgrowth, two gas peaks will be detected compared to one peak in normal individuals.
Gastric emptying test: This test is performed to evaluate the ability of your stomach to empty its contents. You may have to consume a radioactive labelled meal and the speed of gastric emptying will be detected with a device placed over your abdomen. Delay in gastric emptying may cause bloating and indicatepresence of certain gastric disorders.