While it might not be considered socially acceptable to pass gas in public, this action is a natural part of your bodily functions. The same is true with burping, though doing this discreetly is more easily excused.
There are two ways that your body produces abdominal gas. The first is when bacteria digest foods in the large intestine that haven’t been digested in the small intestine. The gas produced passes out of your body as flatulence. Gas is also produced when you swallow excess air while you eat, drink, or even talk. This is typically released through burping, but if any of this gas is left over, it goes through the intestines and comes out as flatulence.
Though you may burp and pass gas as often as 13 to 21 times a day, it is usually a normal and harmless occurrence that you might not even give much notice to. But gas can sometimes make you feel bloated or even cause pain in your stomach or sides. If these symptoms are severe or persistent, you should consult your doctor about it. It is especially important to do so if your gassiness is accompanied by other symptoms such as heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, blood in your stool, or unintentional weight loss. These may be signs of a more serious problem in your digestive tract.
If you find your burping and flatulence to be quite bothersome, here are some ways to prevent or lessen their occurrences, as well as a few remedies you could try.
Preventing Gas and Bloating
1. Limit foods that are most likely to cause gas.
Certain foods, mostly carbs, are more likely to cause gas than others. This is because these foods often reach the large intestine without being broken down. They are then digested by bacteria, producing gas. Cutting down on these problem foods can help lessen the frequency of flatulence. Some examples of these are beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, prunes, whole grain foods, soft drinks, fruit juice, and dairy products. It would also help to eat more slowly to prevent swallowing too much air.
2. Take notes on the food that you eat.
Although certain foods are more likely to make you feel gassy, each person has different reactions to these foods. You may be more intolerant to some foods than others. If you find yourself burping or passing gas more often on some days, you might want to take note of what you have eaten. Keeping notes can help you narrow down which foods you are most sensitive to. Once you have identified these, you could take extra care to avoid them when you can.
3. Cut down on gluten.
A specific food sensitivity that plays a role in gas buildup is gluten intolerance. Bloating is one of the most common symptoms of this. If you are prone to bloating, you might be sensitive to gluten. Try to cut down on gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. If doing this lessens your gas issues, you might just have identified the root of your problem.
4. Practice breathing deeply.
Food is not the only culprit to gassiness. Swallowing too much air can also produce excess gas. One way to avoid this is to practice taking deep breaths instead of short ones that can lead the air into the esophagus instead of the lungs. You can train yourself to breathe deeply by practicing mindful breathing or meditation. These techniques have the added benefit of reducing your stress, which, you might be surprised to learn, makes you more sensitive to gas.
5. Keep your body active.
Exercising regularly has a ton of benefits for your body. One of these is reducing your bloating problem. Engaging in physical activity could get the food moving through your gastrointestinal tract faster. This could help prevent gas, bloating, and constipation. In addition, a good workout could cut down your stress, which would also benefit your belly. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise around three to five times a week.
6. Practice Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises are probably most often associated with pregnancy. However, these exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, can be practiced by both women and men. It is often used to help prevent urinary incontinence. Another thing it can help control is the passing of gas. You can practice Kegels by tightening your pelvic floor muscles as if you are trying to keep in your urine. Hold for three to five seconds before relaxing, then count another three to five seconds. Repeat ten times.
Treatments for Gas and Bloating
1. Anti-Gas Medication
One quick way to get rid of abdominal gas symptoms is to take an anti-gas medication. Simethicone is an over-the-counter drug that combines gas bubbles in your stomach and intestines to form into larger bubbles. This makes it easier for you to pass gas. The drug relieves bloating, pain, and discomfort caused by too much gas in your digestive tract. It is considered safe to take even by children, as long as it is taken as directed. However, it would be best for pregnant or breastfeeding women to first consult their doctor before taking it.
2. Activated Charcoal Supplements
Activated charcoal is an odorless black powder made from common charcoal by heating it in the presence of gas. This expands its surface area, creating internal spaces or pores. These pores trap chemicals, or in this case, gas molecules. Activated charcoal is available as an over-the-counter supplement in tablet or capsule form as a treatment for abdominal gas. It is considered to be more effective in relieving gas symptoms when it is combined with simethicone.
3. Lactase Supplement
Milk is one of the common culprits for bloating and gas pains. If you are lactose intolerant, you may find yourself suffering from these symptoms when you consume even small amounts of dairy. Fortunately, lactase supplements are available, allowing you to enjoy milk products even if you are deficient in lactase. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down the lactose that is found in milk and dairy products. In the form of supplements, it can help prevent gas, bloating, and diarrhea associated with lactose intolerance.
4. Herbal Teas
If you are a tea lover, you might be happy to know that your preferred drink could help reduce abdominal gas and bloating. Peppermint and chamomile teas are excellent choices to sip to relieve these symptoms. They cause the gastrointestinal muscles to relax and help dispel gas. Both types work well for digestive problems in general, including indigestion, diarrhea, cramps, and nausea. This gives you one more excuse to enjoy your cup!
These tips for prevention and treatment of abdominal gas will come in handy if you find yourself bothered by its symptoms. Just remember that if your gassiness is severe or persistent, or if it comes with other symptoms, it is best to see your doctor right away to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.