Straight, No Chaser: Treating Your Gas and Gas Pains
So… you have problems with gas. What are you to do? Well, given that gas production is a natural occurrence, it’s not like you’re going to eliminate having gas (no pun intended). If you read the previous post on what produces belching and flatus, you should have a good idea as to why different things affect you the way they do. Understanding this directly leads into how you can prevent, reduce and treat untoward gas production.
I’ll make this simple. If you want to reduce the amount of gas you produce, think of these three considerations within your reach. If these efforts prove ineffective, your physician may prescribe medicine, but this should not be the initial consideration.
Adjust your diet
- If you recall the variety of foods that produce gas or simply remember foods high in carbohydrates produce more gas than foods high in fat or protein, that’s a start. Unfortunately this requires thought and balance. Many healthy food produce gas (e.g. fruits, vegetables and whole grains). You don’t want to create an unhealthy diet in pursuit of convenience. Be reminded that while fat does not cause gas to the extent that carbohydrates do, limiting high-fat foods can still help reduce bloating and discomfort. Less fat in the diet helps the stomach empty faster. This allows gases to move more quickly through the digestive system.
- If you believe or know yourself to be lactose intolerant, simple avoidance of dairy products will improve your situation.
Change how you eat
- Your eating habits play a role in this. For example, if you are a fast eater, you’re likely gulping down air. Slow it down, and chew more thoroughly.
- Think about how you chew. Do you keep your mouth open? If so, that involves swallowing more air. Now think about those people who habitually chew gum or hard candies with their mouths open. These are habits easily altered.
- Keep your dentures or dental plates adjusted so they fit. The constant production of air pockets in those loose spaces can get transmitted down your digestive track as you chew. A little attention in this direction can lead to a lot less gas. Check with your dentist.
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments
You know certain OTC medicines well. It’s reasonable for you to know what they’re doing.
- Beano (alpha-galactosidase) is a digestive aid. It helps the body digest the sugar contained within beans and many vegetables. It doesn’t affect gas production from lactose or fiber.
- Mylanta, Maalox or Gas-X (simethicone) also can relieve bloating and abdominal pain or discomfort caused by gas. These products don’t affect gas production but do increase the rate of gas elimination. Thus, even when it seems as if one of these is not producing immediate relief, it’s likely helping.
- Lactase tablets or drops can help people with lactose intolerance digest milk and milk products to reduce gas production. Lactose intolerance is discussed in detail in another Straight, No Chaser post.
Here’s a final word of caution. Gas pain may not be due to simple considerations. Those who burp frequently can have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Cardiac disease can present with gas pain. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a reason why you’re more sensitive to gas pain. There are many other examples.
Remember: if these tips aren’t effective in improving your gas discomfort, please consider getting evaluated.
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