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Embarrassing Conditions

Managing embarrassing symptoms -- burping, intestinal gas, and the growling stomach --- may be as simple as changing your diet.
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Disagreeable Food

Although lactose intolerance may be the best known, there are other types of known food intolerances. For instance, fructose intolerance is an inability to digest a different sugar that's in some vegetables and fruits and also used as an artificial sweetener.

But the individual reactions that people have to various foods are so diverse that they can't be categorized. For instance, one person may notice that peppers give her terrible intestinal gas, while another can't eat onions for the same reason.

Some of your digestive symptoms -- such as flatulence, bloating, and cramping -- may depend on what particular strains of bacteria have or have not set up shop in your large intestine. But that's probably not the whole story.

"We just don't have scientific and physiological explanations for some of these reactions," says Wheby.

Wilcox agrees. "It all just depends on your make-up and what you eat," he says, "and you learn what to avoid by trial and error."

How Can I Reduce my Gas?

Ultimately, there's only so much one can do to reduce the amount of gas you have. Everyone has to contend with some belching and intestinal gas every day.

But if it's really bothering you, or if you feel that the amount of gas you're producing is excessive, there are some steps you can take. All three experts agree that the most important steps are making changes to your diet by:

  • Avoiding anything that might increase your chances of swallowing air, such as smoking, drinking through straws, and eating too quickly
  • Avoiding or cutting down on problematic foods, such as carbonated drinks, beans, and some raw vegetables
  • Considering a food diary. If you can't figure out what may be causing your increased gas, try keeping a journal of what you eat. You may find one or two foods that seem to increase your symptoms.

There are countless products sold in drugstores that may give you some relief, including antacids and digestive aids. But Wilcox and Edmundowicz caution that they may not help much.

"Antacids have very limited effects," says Edmundowicz. While simethicone, an ingredient in many antacids, seems to help some people with heartburn, it won't help with intestinal gas.

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