Gas and flatulence may be staples of lowbrow comedy, but for people who have to constantly deal with the abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort – as well as the stress of dealing with all of these symptoms in social situations – gas is no laughing matter.
How Gas Gets Into Your Gut
There are two basic ways that gas forms inside your body. The first is pretty intuitive: by swallowing air, which can lead to nitrogen and oxygen gathering inside your digestive tract. Also, when carbohydrates in your colon are fermented by the bacteria which reside there, gases such as methane can collect there.
Here are ways to reduce or alleviate painful gas and bloating:
Limit Gas-Causing Foods
The most common culprit behind gas formation in the body is the consumption of certain foods and beverages. These may include:
Fructose-flavored soft drinks
Change Your Dining Habits
Another way to prevent gas and bloating has less to do with what you eat than how you eat. When you eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly, less air gets into your body when you swallow and your food gets digested quicker. And since the stomach acids which break down food can be washed away by liquids, you might try drinking beverages about half an hour before you eat instead of with your meal.
Gas Relief Products and Medications
If you do find yourself suffering from gas pain, there are some over-the-counter products which may provide some relief. The antiflatulent simethicone can break up gas bubbles and lessen bloating. Products with certain digestive enzymes can boost your body’s ability to digest certain gas-causing foods. And activated charcoal supplements work to absorb gas that is inside your digestive tract.
Scientific research has also discovered some other approaches to dealing with gas. One study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that the nonabsorbent antibiotic called rifaximin had a positive impact on multiple symptoms associated with gas and bloating. Another study in BMC Gastroenterology focused on a probiotic bacteria strain known as Bacillus coagulans, which showed promise in reducing abdominal pain caused by post-meal gas.
Get These Non-Gassy Foods and Herbs
As there are some foods which naturally stimulate gas formation in the body, there are also others which are much less likely to cause this problem. So you might want to integrate more of these foods into your diet:
Peanut butter (smooth)
Some nutritionists have touted the benefits of certain herbs which have carminative (i.e. gas-expulsion) properties. These herbs include:
If you can’t incorporate these herbs into your diet, they can be found in supplement form at most health food stores.
What If It’s More Than Just Gas?
If you have experimented with various medications, supplements or dietary changes but are still being troubled by gas, there’s a chance it could be a symptom of a more serious problem. For instance, lower digestive tract disorders like lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome are often accompanied by gas pains and flatulence. If your pain is centered higher up in your gastrointestinal tract and you tend to belch a lot, you could be suffering from reflux, gastroparesis, a peptic ulcer, or another type of upper GI disorder. Therefore, if your gas-related issues are chronic and/or severe, it may be necessary to consult your physician.
Tweak Your Lifestyle
Finally, there are a few habits you can adjust or alter that may decrease the prevalence of gas and its symptoms. Since swallowing air can result in gas buildup, activities like smoking, chewing gum, sucking on hard candies and drinking through straws should be curtailed. If you’re taking fiber supplements for other health reasons, cut back on your dosage or take a hiatus from these products. And (as with most maladies) exercise can help move gas through your digestive tract so it doesn’t have a chance to collect and cause pain.
Because everyone’s body is different, it may take some trial and error to figure out the source of your gas problems. And the act of passing gas is perfectly normal – in fact, the typical person does so between 14 and 23 times each day. So since there’s no need to eliminate bodily gas entirely, you should simply strive to keep it at a level that you can manage given your particular lifestyle.
1. Sharara, Ala I. et al. “A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial Of Rifaximin In Patients With Abdominal Bloating And Flatulence”. N.p., 2005. Print.
2. Kalman, Douglas S et al. “A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Parallel-Group Dual Site Trial To Evaluate The Effects Of A Bacillus Coagulans-Based Product On Functional Intestinal Gas Symptoms”. N.p., 2009. Print.