What causes gas?
Everyone has gas, and “passing gas” is normal. You swallow air every time you eat or drink. You may also swallow air when you're nervous, eat too fast, chew gum or drink through a straw. Some of that air finds its way into your lower digestive tract. Bacteria in your intestines can also produce gas. Most intestinal gas is produced when bacteria ferment carbohydrates.
What are the symptoms of gas?
It is normal to pass gas between 10 to 20 times a day. Gas can cause bloating and pain, although not everyone has these symptoms. How much gas the body makes, and how sensitive a person is has an effect on how uncomfortable one feels.
How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider will evaluate your medical history and dietary intake to help determine the cause of your gas and gas pains as well as to rule out other medical conditions.
How is it treated?
If your gas pains are caused by another health problem, treating the underlying condition may offer relief. Treating constipation, if present, is one of the most effective measures to minimize gas pain. Otherwise, bothersome gas is generally treated with dietary measures and lifestyle modifications:
- Some foods produce more gas than others when digested. The effect that these foods have on an individual varies from person to person. Try avoiding the following foods one at a time to determine the effect each may have on you. Typical gas producing foods include beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, artichokes, asparagus, pears, apples, peaches, prunes, sugar-free candies, chewing gum, carbonated beverages, beer, fruit drinks, wheat bread, bran, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine.
- Cut back on fried and fatty foods
- If you are lactose intolerant, reduce the use of dairy products such as cheese and ice-cream.
- Reduce the amount of air you swallow during meals by eating slowly.
- Avoid chewing gum, eating hard candy, and drinking through a straw.
Over-the-counter remedies that may help with gas include:
- Beano: a supplement to help reduce gas from eating beans and vegetables.
- Lactase supplements, or a trial lactose-free dairy products , may be used if you are lactose intolerant.
- Simethicone: a medication that helps break up the bubbles in gas.
When to seek medical advice:
Call your doctor if you have severe, prolonged, or recurrent pain in your abdomen- especially if you also have nausea, vomiting, bleeding, weight loss, fever or chest pain. In addition, talk to your doctor if your gas pains or bloating are so persistent or severe that they interfere with your ability to live a normal life. In most cases, treatment can help reduce or alleviate the problem.