Bloated stomach with COPD…

I was just shutting down for the night, when I found this search string “my father has COPD and he says his stomach is very tight”.

That’s a very common problem with respiratory illness, and one I’ve suffered from all my life. It’s a condition called “aerophagy” – literally, air-eating, which causes a painfully bloated stomach.

When it’s difficult to breathe, it’s a reflex action to swallow air. I don’t know why – maybe it dates back to our aquatic ancestry – but it’s very uncomfortable, even painful, and impairs your breathing even more. And if, like me, your belching mechanism doesn’t work, it just goes on getting worse.

When it gets really bad, I have to stick my finger down my throat, to trigger a belch. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and other times I’ll puke down my sleeve. (I’ve developed very quick reflexes to avoid that!)

Luckily, there is a solution, at your local pharmacy, a product called Altacite Plus, it’s a liquid antacid, with an additive which helps release trapped air (don’t buy the tablets, they’re just a plain antacid). It costs about £3.50 for 500ml, and is both much cheaper, and more effective, than Gaviscon, and I don’t care what they claim! The pharmacy may have to order it for you, but if it becomes a regular order, they should be willing to keep a bottle in stock for you.

It’s worth talking to your doctor, too, as it’s available on prescription and the doc may know of some thing better (if there is, I don’t know about it). And there’s also a condition called GORD* – Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease, which often accompanies COPD, and needs treatment with drugs called Proton Pump Inhibitors, or PPIs. They do nothing for the wind problem, though.

*GERD in the US, where they drop the initial “O” from Oesophageal – damn colonials! 😉

There’s also a capsule called WindSettlers, which contain the same chemical as Altacite Plus – don’t bother, they’re useless and manufacturing standards are abysmal.