Gas is air that is trapped in the digestive tract. It is either passed by burping or flatulence. Gas occurs naturally as a result of swallowing and digestion. Passing gas several times a day is normal. There are two potential causes for discomfort with gas: passing excessive amounts of gas or not passing enough gas.
Excessive gas can be caused by diet. Eating the following can lead to experiencing excessive gas:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Dairy lactose products
- Soft drinks
- Sugar substitutes
It can also be caused by a lower intestine or digestive disorder like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Passing gas is excessive when it occurs more than 20 times per day.
Gas discomfort can also occur when it does not move through your intestines. When you do not pass gas at a normal frequency, you may experience bloating and abdominal pain. Other intestinal obstructions could occur if you have colon or ovarian cancer.
Remedies and Treatments for Gas
If you have gas pains that are disrupting your daily activities, there are some easy remedies that you can try at home to alleviate the pain. The two best ways to treat your gas pains are by changing your diet and taking over-the-counter medications.
You can change your diet and eat foods that reduce the amount of gas your body makes. This can alleviate gas pains quickly. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating by keeping a diary of your diet and gas symptoms. That will help you target what may be reacting with your digestive system.
Changes to your diet should include eating smaller portions, reducing the amount of air you are swallowing by taking slow and deliberate bites of your food, and avoiding chewing gum or hard candy to reduce the amount of air you swallow.
You might need to cut out certain fruits and vegetables that cause intestinal gas. Limiting your dairy and whole grain consumption can also help. Try to avoid high-fat foods and beans or lentils that cause bloating and discomfort.
The amount and cause of gas can differ from person to person, so take note of what you’re eating and how your body is responding to it. You can experiment by taking out and gradually reintroducing foods to discover what element of your diet causes gas pains.
These products are designed to reduce gas symptoms. You should take these if you have excessive or painful gas:
- Alpha-galactosidase: This is known as Beano or BeanAssist and helps break down the carbohydrates in beans and vegetables. Take it before your meal.
- Lactase supplements: Also known as Lactaid or Digest Dairy Plus. This supplement helps you digest sugar in dairy products.
- Simethicone: This is known as Gas-X or Mylanta and helps break up the bubbles in gas and helps move it along the digestive tract.
- Activated charcoal: Also known as CharcoCaps or Actidose-Aqua. Activated charcoal helps reduce gas pain if taken before your meal. Know the side effects of taking charcoal before you try it.
When to See a Doctor
Gas is a common occurrence, but if yours is persistent and painful or associated with vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, or blood in the stool you should consult your doctor as it may indicate a serious medical problem.
Other signs of alarming gas symptoms include:
- Chronic or unusual abdominal pain
- Severe heartburn
- Persistent vomiting or nausea
- Chronic diarrhea
- Bloody or black stool
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Severe bloating
- Constipation or difficulty emptying your bowels