Stomach bloating and gas are uncomfortable, and can be embarrassing--as well as difficult to live with. Although bloating and gas can sometimes be painful, the problem is not life-threatening and can be resolved. Treatment involves a combination of lifestyle and dietary adjustments, as well as over-the-counter or herbal remedies.
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What Causes Bloating and Gas
Bloating is caused by gas building up in your stomach and creating a distended, sometimes painful feeling. Gas is produced by swallowed air, and by the breakdown of certain foods in the large intestine. Most healthy individuals produce 1 to 4 pints of gas per day, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
Several over-the-counter remedies are available for relief from bloating and gas. A major ingredient in many of these products is simethicone, a substance that, according to the Mayo Clinic, works on gas bubbles to make them easier to pass. Over-the-counter medicines that contain simethicone include Gas-X, Alka-Seltzer Anti-Gas and Mylicon.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that peppermint also is effective in providing relief from the discomfort of stomach bloating and gas, because it relaxes gastrointestinal muscles and encourages the elimination of gas. Peppermint can be used in tea or capsule form.
Dietary and Lifestyle Remedies
Eliminating food that is known to produce a larger quantity of gas can help resolve and prevent bloating and gas. Fiber produces gas, and a high fiber diet can result in increased bloating and discomfort. If you are using bulk laxative agents with high fiber content, try reducing the amount you take or discuss the option with your health care provider. The Mayo Clinic states that other foods that produce a lot of gas include lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beans and fruits.
Because swallowed air can produce gas, limiting practices such as chewing gum, sucking hard candy or smoking can help. Also, avoid carbonated beverages. Try a mild form of exercise such as walking after you eat.
Your body may respond differently to some types of food than someone else’s body. Pay attention to what foods create gas for you, and experiment with different remedies. To identify the cause of bloating and gas and effective remedies, it may help to temporarily record the food you eat, the amount of bloating and gas you experience and the remedies you try and their effectiveness.
Although bloating and gas are most commonly associated with minor dietary or lifestyle issues and resolve with appropriate modifications, it’s important to seek the help of a physician if your symptoms do not go away. Bloating and gas can be symptoms of digestive diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, or of a lactose allergy.