Most people may not know that there are hidden additives that can trigger reflux episodes as well as stomach pain. One of these additives is the sugar substitute sorbitol. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol and is found most often in sugarless chewing gum but can also be found in mints, cough syrup and other diet foods.
Small amounts of sorbitol is unlikely to cause any ill effects in the average person. For those with GI diseases or acid reflux a small amount has the potential to cause significant pain. Symptoms associated with sorbitol sensitivity include severe abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea that can be severe enough to cause significant weight loss in some patients. It can also cause an increase in reflux like symptoms for those dealing with acid reflux.
You can determine if sorbitol is in a food by reading the label closely. There are also many other sugar alcohols that are "cousins" to sorbitol like manitol and xylitol. You can determine if there is sugar alcohol present in your food by checking for the suffix -ol at the end of the additive name. If you find an additive ending in -ol in your food and have been experiencing the symptoms mentioned it may be wise to discontinue use of the product.
With a bit of investigating on your part you can save a lot of pain later.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.