Gas is simply air in the digestive tract -- a normal and expected consequence of digestion. Most gas enters the body via swallowed air or is created as intestinal bacteria munch on food particles, and the majority of this gas leaves the body through belching or flatulence -- the passing of gas through the rectum. Unfortunately, sometimes this gas causes pain, discomfort, bloating and embarrassment. Gas that occurs in the stomach or upper abdominal area is usually caused by swallowed air. Treatment of stomach gas pains is directed at releasing trapped air, while swallowing less air is the key to preventing stomach gas.
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Go ahead and burp -- perhaps discretely if around other people. The trapped air needs to escape your body through burping or flatulence, and expelling this air can help improve your symptoms. If needed, move your body to help release trapped air. Go for a walk, sit upright or stand instead of lying down.
Try peppermint tea to relieve your symptoms. According to an August 2006 review in “Phytomedicine,” peppermint has carminative properties -- which means it prevents or relieves flatulence. Other herbs such as chamomile, ginger, anise and fennel are touted for gas relief but insufficient evidence is available to understand their specific role in improving stomach gas.
Try over-the-counter (OTC) anti-gas remedies. Simethicone, the active ingredient found in many anti-gas medications, works by helping the body release the trapped air via burping or flatulence. If gas is a common problem, talk to your doctor about the best OTC gas remedies for you.
To prevent stomach-related gas pain, implement strategies to reduce the likelihood of swallowing air. Eat and drink slowly, chew food well, and avoid gulping. Avoid drinking through straws, sucking on hard candy or chewing gum. Avoid carbonated beverages such as sodas, carbonated waters and beer. Don't smoke or use chewing tobacco as these habits can also cause you to swallow more air.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disordrs: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- American College of Gastroenterology: Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence
- Merck Manual: Gas-Related Complaints
- Fundamental Nursing Skills and Concepts; Barbara Kuhn Timby
- Phytomedicine: Pharmacology and Preclinical Pharmacokinetics of Peppermint Oil.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Gas in the Digestive Tract