DR ELLIE CANNON: If tests say all is fine, why am I so windy and losing lots of weight? 


I am suffering terribly from wind – and what feels like air bubbles in my stomach. I’ve had endless tests, all of which showed negative results. I’ve lost about two stone over the past three years without trying, and I’m probably underweight these days. Help please!

It is distressing to suffer uncomfortable symptoms when no cause can be found. Weight loss for no reason can be a red flag for something sinister, such as cancer. But after extensive testing, this would normally have been found, or it would have become so serious it would be obvious.

If gas, or trapped wind as it’s sometimes called, is a problem, it might feel like there’s not much room for food.

If this is a persistent, the GP or a dietician could help with supplements such as nutritional drinks that are packed with calories, so only a little needs to be consumed.

I am suffering terribly from wind – and what feels like air bubbles in my stomach (file photo)

Excess gas in the digestive system generally comes from swallowing a lot of air with food. This can happen when a patient has problems with their teeth, such as poorly fitting dentures, meaning it takes a long time to eat and chew, or from having too many fizzy drinks.

It may also happen if gas is coming up into the stomach from the intestine. This shouldn’t occur, as there is a closing ring of muscle at the junction between the two organs that stops back-flow. But in some people, this muscle is weak and gas builds up.

One test that’s sometimes not done is the one for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO.

This condition occurs when bacteria in the bowel which create a lot of gas migrate into the small intestine, where they are not supposed to be.

We know this leads to weight loss and excess gas and bloating.

SIBO can be tested with an endoscopy or a hydrogen breath test in the hospital, and is treated with a specialised course of antibiotics.

Can you help me with a bizarre problem? It seems as though every time I turn my neck, I hear a strange noise, like a car driving over gravel. I’ve experienced this for many years – but there’s no pain. Should I be worried? I am 68.

Hearing noises when you move your head and neck isn’t a common problem. Having said that, it isn’t necessarily concerning. The neck joints are made up of the neck bones called vertebra, stacked on top of each other with discs in between.

The joints that move when the neck turns are called facet joints.

Lubricating fluid and ligaments are also involved, to allow for smooth, easy movements.

It seems as though every time I turn my neck, I hear a strange noise, like a car driving over gravel (file photo)

It seems as though every time I turn my neck, I hear a strange noise, like a car driving over gravel (file photo)

   

More from Dr Ellie Cannon for The Mail on Sunday…

When joints make a noise, doctors call it crepitus – and it can happen in any joint in the body, with or without pain.

When it is in the neck, it is most likely due to rough spinal bones rubbing against each other, or ligaments rubbing against the bones. As we age, the discs between the bones shrink, which encourages the joints to rub and become worn down.

Also, air bubbles within the lubricating fluid can pop, causing a strange sound. Although this can happen in any joint, when it happens in the neck, we can hear it clearly, as it is close to the ears.

If this has gone on for a long time with no other symptoms, it is not necessary to do anything about it. Most likely, there is some arthritis or wear and tear in the joints. There may be problems further down the line with pain or stiffness.

At this stage, it could be worth looking at preventative treatment for the neck to avoid future problems, such as strengthening exercises, massage or osteopathy.

I am prediabetic and overweight and the GP says I must exercise to improve my health. But every time I run for five minutes, I get so out of breath that I have to stop. I am finding it very hard to build stamina. I’ve tried sports such as tennis but I think I need something more intensive to shift the weight.

GPs often advise patients to take up exercise without considering what type of physical activity is most appropriate for them or how it will fit into their everyday life.

When patients are told to exercise, they are often tempted to start something dramatic. But that will be very difficult to maintain if your fitness is poor to begin with.

Do you have a question for Dr Ellie?

Email DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.

Dr Ellie can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal replies. If you have a health concern, always consult your own GP.

Patients quickly become demoralised, which makes it hard to keep going.

I would start in a different way.

You could begin by walking every day for at least 30 minutes or 10,000 steps.

You don’t have to stick to this exact number, but is a good benchmark. It will get the body moving every day, improving stamina and fitness.

This includes walking up and down stairs, visiting the shops and housework. Using a step counter would help.

Most unfit people won’t be able to run continuously for more than five minutes, but cardio exercises are important to start shifting the weight.

YouTube has lots of easy at-home workouts to do three times a week.

Also, there is some truth to the phrase ‘you can’t run off a bad diet’ when it comes to weight loss. It is very difficult to shift weight with exercise alone – so change what you eat.

A low-GI diet works well for prediabetes, as does any low-calorie eating plan.

Is the doctor seeing you now? I’d like to know

When was the last time you saw your GP face-to-face? After the difficulties faced by patients over the past few years, things seem to be returning to something resembling normal.

In July, there were 26 million appointments, 65 per cent (17 million) in person, and 11 million same-day consultations. Pre-pandemic, roughly 80 per cent of appointments were face-to-face.

When was the last time you saw your GP face-to-face?

When was the last time you saw your GP face-to-face?

Covid helped us get better at sorting out who really needs to be seen but I’m aware this isn’t a uniform picture.

Last week a friend told me her mother in the Midlands, who has complicated health needs, hasn’t seen her GP since 2019.

Letters from readers paint a similar picture. If you’ve had problems like this, or are not happy with the support your GP is offering, I’d like to hear from you. Email me at the address below.

Ditch doomsters to surf safely

It is fairly well accepted that social media can have an impact on health, whether via dodgy advice from ‘influencers’ or the indirect psychological effect of scrolling through doom-laden news and ranting on Twitter.

So I was pleased that youth mental health charity Beyond has launched a new campaign: #SurfSocialSafely. It has some great advice, which I already follow: mute or block accounts that don’t inspire or motivate, and set scrolling time limits.

The charity suggests wearing a watch and charging your phone away from the bedroom, so that you’re not tempted to check it all the time.

To add to that, I’ve deleted Facebook, and both my teens have left the putrid cesspit of TikTok. Basically, the more you limit this stuff, the better you’ll feel. Trust me.

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