What Gas Really Is
The main components of gas include carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. These gases do not give off an odor. However, the gas that comes from the rectum may also include sulfur-containing compounds, which does have an unpleasant and distinctive scent.
Some people also have methane in their flatulence, which is produced in the large intestine during digestion. Methane production is not typical only about a third of people have it in their flatulence.
What Causes Gas & Bloating
There are two main causes of gas in the digestive tract .
Over The Counter Medications
There are several effective treatments for gas that can be found right in the drugstore.
- If you are lactose intolerant, you can take OTC lactase when you drink milk products so that you can digest the lactose, thereby avoiding gas.
- Beano is another digestive enzyme that can be taken to reduce the gas caused by eating beans, vegetables, and grains.
- Simethicone may not help with preventing gas but may help in passing gas more easily.
Antacids may not help with excess gas. Activated charcoal has not been proven to reduce gas, and should not be taken at the same time as other medications, as there is a risk of reducing their effectiveness.
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Pain Or Discomfort From Gas
Some people may have gas in the digestive tract that causes them discomfort, such as abdominal bloating or distention. This can lead to a desire to make changes to the diet or lifestyle in order to have less gas. Keep in mind that everyone has gas and must pass it several times a day. People who feel that they have an excessive amount of gas or that gas is causing a disproportionate amount of pain should talk to a physician.
How Can I Prevent Intestinal Gas
Most foods containing carbohydrates can cause gas. A food diary can help you determine which foods make you gassy. But dont cut out too many things. Many vegetables, fruits, dairy products, wheat products and beans cause gas, but theyre also very good for you.
To reduce your bodys gas production, you can:
- Chew slowly, and dont talk while eating.
- Cut back on carbonated beverages, chewing gum and hard candies.
- Drink through a straw.
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How Is Bloating Treated
Bloating will usually go away by itself if you adjust your diet for a while. Cut down on salty foods, carbohydrates and fizzy drinks. For some people, it can help to avoid foods that contain onion or garlic, wheat, rye, lactose products or stone fruit.
Bloating caused by constipation can be treated by eating more high-fibre foods, increasing the amount of water that you drink, and exercising regularly. Some people may need laxatives to treat constipation.
If you have a medical condition such as coeliac disease, you will need to follow a strict diet to prevent bloating and other symptoms. If you have IBS, following a high-fibre diet and the low FODMAP diet may help. This involves cutting out some dairy products, wheat and other grains, and some fruits and vegetables. Talk to a health professional such as your doctor or a dietitian before starting this diet to make sure it is right for you.
If you have a food intolerance, you may need to try an elimination diet to find out which food or foods are causing your problems. Your doctor or dietitian will advise you.
Some people find that probiotics containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium can help with bloating by reducing the production of gas in the gut.
You’re Swallowing Too Much Airlike Literally
One commonly overlooked cause of gas is actually ingesting air, which causes it to accumulate in the esophagus, according to the Mayo Clinic. It happens when you do anything that causes you to swallow an excessive amount of air, such as “drinking carbonated beverages, smoking, eating or drinking too fast, talking while eating,” Dr. Balzora explains.
It can also be caused by chewing gum, sucking on candies all day, or breathing through your mouth while you sleep. If you have gas in the morning or wake up feeling completely full, it might be because of the way you’re breathing as you sleep. It also turns out that swallowing air can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease , which is a condition where stomach acid travels up the esophagus , but well get into that a bit later.
If swallowing air is simply something you do when youre nervous, this situation is called aerophagia, and it can contribute to excessive gas. So if you think swallowing air might be at the root of your gas issues, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman suggests taking a look at your daily habits and seeing where that extra air might be coming from. For instance, you might be able to minimize the amount of air you ingest by opting for non-carbonated beverages , trying not to talk while you eat, and avoiding chewing gum.
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How Long Does A Bloated Stomach Last
If your bloating is due to something you ate or drank or to hormone fluctuations, it should begin to ease within a few hours to days. If you are constipated, it wont go down until you start pooping. Water, exercise and herbal teas can help encourage all of these things along. If it doesnt go away or gets worse, seek medical attention.
What Are The Complications Of Intestinal Gas
Extra gas can cause pain, discomfort and embarrassment, but its usually not a serious health problem. Gas buildup can sometimes feel more worrisome, though. Gas on the left side of the colon can cause chest pain that you might mistake for a heart attack. Gas buildup on the right side can mimic pain from gallstones or appendicitis. A health professional should check out these symptoms for any concerning underlying cause.
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Causes Of Gas In Stomach
Gas in the stomach can be due to a myriad of causes. Some are simple causes while others can be due to an underlying medical condition. Some of these causes are provided below.
- Undigested foods slow digestion of foods can result in the production of hydrogen and carbon dioxide and methane that cause a build of stomach gas.
- Lactose intolerance this is a congenital disorder that causes allergic reactions to certain dairy products.
- Aerophagia swallowing air while eating or drinking or talking
- Pancreatitis sudden inflammation of the pancreas
- Food poisoning
- IBS and constipation
What Causes Bloating In The Stomach
Gas is a natural byproduct of digestion, but too much intestinal gas means your digestion is gone awry. While you can ingest gasses by swallowing air or drinking carbonated beverages, these gasses mostly escape through belching before they reach your intestines. Gasses in your intestines are mostly produced by gut bacteria digesting carbohydrates, in a process called fermentation.
If theres too much fermentation going on, its because too many carbohydrates werent naturally absorbed earlier in the digestive process, before reaching those gut bacteria. That could be for several reasons. Maybe you just ate too much too fast for proper digestion. Or you might have a specific food intolerance or gastrointestinal disease. Some possible causes include:
These can include solids, liquids, and gas. Digestive contents can build up in your digestive system when there is a backup or restriction in your digestive tract or when the muscles that move digestive contents along are somehow impaired. Any build-up of digestive contents along the digestive tract will leave less room for normal amounts of gas to process through. It also leaves less room for other things in your abdomen, including circulatory fluids and fat, making everything feel tighter. Causes of build-up can include:
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How Is Intestinal Gas Managed Or Treated
- Alpha-galactosidase , an enzyme to break down hard-to-digest foods.
- Bismuth subsalicylate for adults with upset stomach and diarrhea.
- Lactase enzymes for lactose intolerance .
- Probiotics to get rid of bad gut bacteria.
- Simethicone to reduce intestinal gas buildup that causes bloating.
Prescription medications may help if you have a motility problem like IBS. Antibiotics can treat bacterial overgrowth in the intestines that cause excess gas and bloating.
Gas In The Intestines
Flatulence is a byproduct of food that does not get broken down completely in the small intestine. Enzymes and bacteria that do the work of digesting food are present in the digestive tract. Some foods cannot be broken down fully by the enzymes in the small intestine, and are therefore passed into the large intestine. The large intestine contains a number of different forms of bacteria that continue the digestive process, but this process creates byproductscarbon dioxide, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. These gases need to leave the body and do so by passing through the rectum as flatulence.
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Other Reasons For Bloating
There are also functional reasons that can cause bloating: You may have low levels of digestive enzymes, bile, or gastric juices which prevents efficient breakdown of your food.
The more undigested food that ends up in your intestines, the more gas and bloating you will experience. Digestive enzyme supplements can help these issues and as for increasing your stomach acids, your best bet is to limit the use of antacids.
An imbalanced gut microbiome can also influence digestive function and health. Undigested foods that make it to your gut will be broken down by bacteria, but not always the beneficial ones.
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SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is a similar problem that commonly causes gas, burping, acid reflux, and bloating. SIBO can result from a lack of stomach acid or when the resident bacteria grow out of balance.
Probiotics can help to regenerate a healthy balance, but you also need to avoid foods that trigger disruptions in the digestive tract.
Red Flags You Shouldnt Ignore
Gas is usually not a medical emergency, but when accompanied by certain worrisome symptoms, its a good idea to speak with your doctor. Colon cancer is one potential concern, van der Linden says. If is in the lower part of the colon and causing a partial blockage, it could make things back up a little bit easier, he says.
Additional warning signs of a potentially serious health issue that requires medical attention include:
- Bloody stool
- Changes in frequency of bowel movements
- Persistent diarrhea or constipation
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Gas And Bloating Symptoms
Gas-related symptoms include burping excessively, passing a lot of wind from the back passage, crampy stomach pains and a bloated belly. Gas sometimes settles in the curves of the large bowel under the liver or spleen. This can cause pain in the upper right or upper left areas of your tummy.
Most people who are bothered by these types of symptoms do not actually produce more gas than usual, they are just more sensitive to normal amounts. However, it is now considered that some patients with irritable bowel syndrome do produce larger than normal volumes of gas. Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition in which bouts of tummy pain are associated with bloating and changes in bowel habit such as constipation and diarrhoea. See the separate leaflet called Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Just to complicate matters further, the amount of bloating does not relate to the seriousness of the cause. People with irritable bowel syndrome may complain of severe bloating, whilst in those with coeliac disease the bloating may be mild, moderate or severe.
What Natural Or Home Remedies Help Soothe And Get Rid Of Intestinal Gas And Gas Pain
- If there is maldigestion of specific sugars — lactose, sorbitol, or fructose — the offending sugars can be eliminated from the diet.
- In the case of lactose in milk, an alternative treatment is available. People with lactose intolerance can add enzymes that are similar to intestinal lactase to the milk prior to drinking it in order to break down the lactose into glucose and galactose so that it can be absorbed normally. Some people find that yogurt, in which the lactose has been broken down partially by bacteria, produces less gas than milk.
- There also are certain types of vegetables and fruits that contain types of starches that are poorly digested by people but well digested by bacteria. These include beans, lentils, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, apricots, and prunes. Reducing the intake of these vegetables and fruits, as well as foods made from whole grains, should reduce gas and flatulence. However, the list of gas-producing foods is rather long, and it may be difficult to eliminate them all without severely restricting the diet.
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How To Get Rid Of Stomach Gas
Although stomach gas is not life-threatening, it can be extremely embarrassing. Therefore, persons suffering with excessive gas in the stomach can rely on below measures to rid excessive gas buildup.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
You can always rely on apple cider vinegar to treat indigestion and stomach gas. There are many enzymes in ACV responsible for alkalizing your body and promoting better digestion.
Take a glass of warm water and add 2 tsp. of ACV to it. Mix well and leave it for a few minutes to cool to room temperature. Then, drink twice a day. You can use this remedy even when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
One of the best remedies to deal with stomach gas is to use some ginger. It has antiemetic properties, so it reduces nausea and works amazingly well to help expel intestinal gas. Some studies have also found that ginger may trigger the process of gastric emptying. It also helps soothe the intestinal tract.
Take equal amounts of ground ginger, cardamom, and fennel. Mix well and add a teaspoon of this mixture along with some asafetida to a cup of water. Have it twice a day to relieve indigestion. You can also drink ginger tea or simply chew on raw ginger pieces for relief.
3. Baking Soda and Lemon
Also called sodium bicarbonate, baking soda acts as an antacid and helps expel stomach gas. Combine it with lemon juice to make it even more effective.
6. Change the Diet
7. Other Remedies
Can Bloating Be Prevented
To keep your digestive system working well, follow a healthy diet and eat at least 30g of fibre every day. Cut down on processed and fatty foods, and drink less alcohol. Drink plenty of water and take any medicines as directed by your doctor.
Dont overeat, and try to eat more slowly. Eating regularly will help to prevent digestive problems.
Regular exercise is also important for your gut because it strengthens the muscles in your tummy and stimulates the digestive system to push food through. It also helps with stress, which affects the nerves in the digestive system and can slow down digestion.
Smoking is very bad for your digestion. If you smoke, try to quit now.
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When Gas Is A Symptom Of Something Else
If excessive gas is persistent or severe, consult your doctor it could be a sign of a more serious digestive condition, such as:
- Lactose intolerance This is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. I test with a milk challenge, says Bickston. The patient drinks a pint or two of milk it can be any percent fat. What follows tells the patients whether they should limit their milk intake. If avoiding milk reduces your symptoms you may be lactose intolerant.
- Irritable bowel syndrome Patients who meet the diagnostic checklist for irritable bowel syndrome suffer more pain at the lower levels of the abdominal cavity, he says.
- Colon cancer Excess gas is rarely the main symptom of patients with colon cancer, Bickston notes. But it does trigger my reflex to remind patients to get screened for colorectal cancer.
- Upper gastrointestinal disorders Occasional belching is normal, but frequent belching may be a sign of an upper gastrointestinal disorder. These include peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease , or gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying.
Also, warns Bickston, if you’ve had abdominal surgery, a hernia, or significant weight loss or weight gain, never dismiss your gas-like symptoms as normal. Get them checked out.
As annoying as it might be, some gas is a natural by-product of the bodys digestive system. But if your gas is excessive, painful, or chronic, talk to your doctor about possible causes and remedies.
What Are The Symptoms Of Gas
Gas symptoms vary from person to person. Common symptoms of gas in the digestive tract include belching, bloating and distention, and passing gas. Having some gas symptoms is normal, especially during or after meals.
Gas symptoms may be a problem if they occur often, bother you, or affect your daily activities.
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Why Does My Stomach Hurt
Tummy troubles are a common cause for a visit to the doctors office. When patients complain of stomach pain, they are sometimes describing pain that is throughout the abdomen area and may not actually be directly related to the organ known as the stomach.
Doctors first try to determine if a patients abdominal pain is caused by a structural or functional problem.
Sometimes the digestive tract does not function properly due to an abnormality with the structure of an organ. Medical imaging will show that the organ does not look normal and is not working properly.
The gastrointestinal system has its own nervous system to control the muscle contractions that digest the food you eat. Functional problems, also called motility disorders, result from poor nerve and muscle function in the digestive tract. Gastrointestinal organs with motility problems will usually look normal on medical imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRI scans, but the organs do not work like they should. Because functional disorders are hard to see in imaging, they can be challenging to diagnose.