Stomach gas can be a major discomfort as well as an embarrassing condition. For some, it can be so severe that it often causes absence from work.
Stomach gas is usually characterized by belching, bloating and gurgling sounds in the intestines. These conditions are present when there is food particles that cannot be absorbed by the digestive system are broken down into smaller and simpler ones by bacteria that produces gas. This process is called fermentation. Although the gurgling sound made by your stomach is not actually from the gas itself but from the intestines contracting, many people characterized stomach gas by the sound the stomach makes.
There is a high amount of bacteria in the colon, or what is more commonly known as large intestines. The food that is broken down in the lumen by bacterial metabolism consumes large amount of hydrogen. They turn into a smaller amount of gas containing methane and sculpture, thus giving it a distinctive foul odor. When gas in the stomach does not pass through flatulence or belching, it can lead to gas build up in the stomach and intestines. This causes bloating. Abdominal pain usually accompanies bloating and the abdominal pain can range from mild and dull throbbing to sharp and intense cramps.
There are many causes of stomach gas and the most common culprit is eating gas-producing food.
Most gas-producing foods are high in carbohydrates like baked beans, cabbages and lettuces. High carbohydrate foods are also high in gas content so when the stomach poorly absorbs them, it can induce gas. Other than that, poor eating habit like eating too fast or improper chewing during eating can also lead to stomach gas. The digestive system requires more energy to absorb or break down the food that it will cause gas release.
So what can you do to cure stomach gas?
There are many medicines sold over the counter for stomach gas relief. As stomach gas is often harmless (though it can get very uncomfortable for many), the medicines are widely sold at pharmacies. Here are some of the common over the counter medicines you can get:
- Charcoal tablets – The high absorption capacity in charcoal allows it to absorb excess gas in the stomach
- Antacids – Although this helps with heartburn because of its simethicone content, it may not necessarily help in reducing the gas in the stomach as much as you expected it to
- Lactase – This is an effective medicine to combat stomach gas caused by dairy product. It works especially for lactose-intolerant patients
- Probiotic supplements – The good bacteria cultures like Lactobacillus and Bifodobacterium will fight off disease-causing microbes and promote healthy bowels thus reducing the risk of gas build up
- Anti-gas drug – Drugs like Mylanta Gas and Beano
There are also natural remedies for stomach gas if you are looking for alternative treatment for drugs.
- Ginger – Eating cuts of fresh ginger will help to reduce stomach gas substantially. Ginger has a pungent, spicy taste so to lessen this, it can be added into a tea to be taken as drink as regularly as possible until the symptoms are alleviated. Taking a teaspoonful of grated ginger root will also contribute to the same effect as eating its cuts
- Garlic – Eating garlic bulbs will help to relieve gas. The antioxidants in garlic will break down the gas and reduce the pain
- Dandelion tea – Dandelions also contain high antioxidants to give the same relief as garlic
However, most of stomach gas problems can be avoided thus eliminating the need for medications, manufactured drugs or natural remedies alike.
Like what is discussed above, avoiding gas-producing foods can be one of the ways to avoid getting stomach gas. Here are more tips on how to avoid getting gas:
- Watch your diet – If you are prone to stomach gas, it is worth to watch what you eat so that you won’t end up with stomach gas. As mentioned, control your intake of high carbohydrate food, high fiber, sugars and starches. These are major contributors to stomach gas problem. There are sugars like lactose (in dairy products), fructose (comes from sweeteners), orbital (sugars in fruits) and raff nose (sugars found in beans) and high content of starch in potatoes and pasta. Reducing your intake of these foods will help to alleviate your gas problems
- Eating habits – many people do not realize or know that poor eating habits can lead to stomach gas. When you eat too fast or drink too quickly (especially through a straw), more air will pass through your mouth and make its way to your stomach. This gas will build up and makes you bloat. So eating slowly with your mouth closed or chewing your food into smaller bits will actually help you to reduce or stop the flow of excessive air into your stomach
- Physical activities – Exercising not only keeps you healthy but it will also help to reduce gas in your bowels. By stretching and working out, the abdominal muscles will work and therefore expel any gas
- Breathing pattern – The way you breathe can also determine whether you are inhaling too much air. This condition is known as acrophobia. It may take a little practice to fix your current breathing pattern but with practice, you can learn the proper breathing technique so that you can avoid stomach gas problems
- Don’t smoke – When you inhale the cigarette smoke, you will also inhale excessive air
- Avoid carbonated drinks and beers – These drinks are high in carbon dioxide and the gas will be released in your stomach, causing you to bloat. Plus beer also has a high content of carbohydrates, the main culprit in stomach gas
- Do not lie down after eating – This will force the stomach to work harder to digest the food. The harder the stomach has to work, the higher the chances of gas being released in the process
- Belching or bowel movement – These physical activities can help to expel gas substantially. You can either force a belch to start expelling gas or the medications you take will promote a bowel movement so the gas will be expelled through the rectum
Overall, everyone will experience stomach gas problem at least once in his or her life. Though it can be a quite painful episode, rest assured that there are ways to avoid as well as medications readily available for you to combat stomach gas problems.