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Gas and gas pains - Flatulence
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Gas and gas pains - Flatulence

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Diseases & Conditions  

Intestinal gas can strike at the worst possible moment - during an important meeting, on a crowded elevator or on a first date. And although passing intestinal gas (flatus) usually isn't serious, it can be seriously embarrassing.

The fact is that everyone passes gas - a combination of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane - at least 12 or more times a day. But some people have excessive gas that bothers them most of the time. In some cases, gas you can't expel or that accompanies irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, celiac disease or stomach flu (gastroenteritis) can cause intense, intermittent pain.

Prevention 

One or more of the following suggestions may help prevent excessive gas:

  • Try to identify and avoid the foods that affect you the most. Some of the worst offenders for many people include beans, peas, lentils, cabbage, radishes, onions, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sauerkraut, apricots, bananas, prunes and prune juice, raisins, whole-wheat bread, bran cereals or muffins, pretzels, spicy foods, beer, sodas, and other carbonated beverages, including carbonated water, milk, cream, ice cream and ice milk.

  • Try cutting back on fried and fatty foods. Often, bloating results from eating fatty foods. Fat delays stomach emptying and can increase the sensation of fullness.

  • Temporarily cut back on high-fiber foods. Add them back gradually over weeks. If you take a fiber supplement, try cutting back on the amount you take and build up your dosage gradually. Be sure to drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day if you use fiber supplements.

  • Reduce your use of dairy products. Try using low-lactose dairy foods, such as yogurt, instead of milk. Or try using products that help digest lactose, such as Lactaid or Dairy Ease. Consuming small amounts of milk products at one time and or consuming them with other foods also may make them easier to digest. In some cases, however, you may need to eliminate dairy foods completely.

  • Try over-the-counter digestive aids. Add products such as Beano to high-fiber foods to help reduce the amount of gas they produce. For Beano to be effective, you need to take it with your first bite of food. It works best when there's no gas in your intestines.

  • Try smaller meals. Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of two or three larger ones.

  • Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and don't gulp. If you have a hard time slowing down, put down your fork between each bite.

  • Don't eat when you're anxious, upset or on the run. Try to make meals relaxed occasions. Eating when you're stressed can interfere with digestion.

  • Take acidophilus capsules or liquid. If your symptoms are the result of antibiotic use, you may get relief with acidophilus capsules or liquid. These supplements may help replace the beneficial intestinal bacteria that antibiotics destroy. You can find them in natural food stores and some drugstores or grocery stores.

  • Try a cup of peppermint tea. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which appears to have an antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscles of your digestive tract. You may find that a warm cup of peppermint tea can provide relief from gas and gas pain. On the other hand, peppermint may contribute to heartburn and acid reflux.

  • Try using simethicone. See if you benefit from using one of the many over-the-counter products that contain simethicone (Mylanta, Riopan Plus, Mylicon). Simethicone helps break up the bubbles in gas. Charcoal tablets also may help. They're available in natural food stores and many drugstores.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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