Gas (Stomach Pain, Bloating, Cramps and Flatulence)
Part of The HIVer's Guide to Coping With Diarrhea & Other Gut Side Effects
Many different factors can cause gas to build up inside your stomach, which leads to any number of uncomfortable feelings: stomach pain, cramps and-most embarrassingly -- flatulence (farting).
Stomach discomfort can be caused by lots of things including constipation, hepatitis, hormonal changes, indigestion, inflammation of the stomach lining, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and ulcers.
Many foods, such as beans, broccoli, soy products, milk products and eggs can also cause cramps and gas. In many cases, especially if you feel crampy, simply passing gas or having a bowel movement can fix the problem, at least temporarily. However, when the pain or discomfort caused by excessive gas becomes frequent, it can make everyday life difficult.
Basically every HIV medication can cause gas, but these in particular may be more likely to do so than others, although it's common in less than 7% of people:
There are different steps you can take to alleviate gas symptoms:
Switch HIV medications.
For Nick Brinkley, gas, stomach pain and bloating are a part of everyday life. "This can be quite uncomfortable," he admits. "When I have severe stomach pain associated with gas and bloating, I sometimes try laying on my left side, which seems to let gas move into the colon and out the rear. The only solutions I really employ are massage, body positioning and patience."
Nick had a severe episode of gas pain once while doing house chores. The pain built up to a point where he could no longer do the housework. Lying down didnt seem to help, nor did sitting on the toilet. He felt clammy and flushed and thought he might faint. "Suddenly I felt the gas move in my intestine and it released," he explains. "In a matter of a few minutes I was ten times better."
Because Nicks CD4 count is so low and hes running low on treatment options, switching meds isnt something he can easily do. In fact, in addition to his Kaletra + Truvada regimen, hes also taking maraviroc, an experimental entry inhibitor that he hopes will provide him with a new way to fight off the virus and strengthen his immune system. As for the gas pains, Nick has decided that, for now at least, patience is the best medicine.
Kali Lindsey had to deal with two gut side effects when he began his regimen of Combivir + Kaletra: diarrhea and severe problems with gas. What gave me the most fits was the amount of gas that I experienced initially. It was mostly internal, but it was very uncomfortable and quite painful at times, he explains.
Unfortunately, nothing he took seemed to help. Finally, after three months of discomfort, Kali and his doctor agreed to switch Kalis regimen to Epivir + Viramune + Viread. His only side effect now is a little nausea.
Copyright © 2007 Body Health Resources Foundation. All rights reserved.
This article was provided by Body Health Resources Foundation. It is a part of the publication The HIVer's Guide to Coping With Diarrhea & Other Gut Side Effects.