Managing embarrassing symptoms -- burping, intestinal gas, and the growling stomach --- may be as simple as changing your diet.
How Can I Reduce my Gas? continued...
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
"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
For people who are intolerant
to lactose or the sugar in beans, enzymes are sold in over-the-counter products
such as Lactaid and Beano, respectively, to help with digestion. However, their
effectiveness varies from person to person, say Edmundowicz and
On the whole, Edmundowicz
suggests that people use whatever over-the-counter or home remedies that help.
"Because these symptoms aren't medically significant most of the time, we
encourage people to use any safe remedy that works," he says.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Most of the time, gas symptoms
aren't anything to worry about, but getting checked out is always a good idea.
You should definitely see a doctor if:
- You notice new symptoms
- Your symptoms keep getting
- Your symptoms are associated with pain,
vomiting, or weight loss
Certain conditions, such as
Crohn's disease or tumors, can cause blockage in the intestines and increase
However, if you've always had
gas and you're not having more serious symptoms as well, you probably don't
have to worry, say Wilcox and Edmundowicz.
"People come in with
complaints about gas and want to be diagnosed with something," says Wilcox. "I
think that's how Americans tend to be. But for a lot of these symptoms, we just
don't have an answer. It just depends on the individual."
So for most of us, coping with
gas -- while noisy, embarrassing, and sometimes malodorous -- is just a normal
part of life.