How to Treat Gas
Gassiness, or flatulence, is a common symptom for people with IBS. While many of the other symptoms can be kept in the privacy of the bathroom, passing gas unfortunately affects those around us as well. Gas can also cause significant abdominal pain and bloating, leading many to seek out treatment options.
One of the first things to consider is diet. Some foods are naturally more gas producing in the body, including beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels spouts, asparagus, onions, and radishes. Many people with IBS find it helpful to follow a FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet, avoiding foods that feed the bacteria in the gut. Others find it beneficial to reduce or eliminate dairy products, including milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt and sour cream.
Remedies for Gassiness
In addition to diet, there are several treatments and remedies that can help with flatulence:
- Beano is a supplement that comes in a tablet or liquid form and is effective when taken with the first bite of food. It helps to reduce the amount of gas produced by beans or vegetables.
- Lactase supplements provide the enzyme lactase, which helps digest dairy products. There are also some dairy products that are lactose-free.
- Digestive enzymes, including amylase, cellulase, lipase, and maltase, are available in supplements and can help the body to digest food. It is highly recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider about digestive enzymes, as some aren’t recommended for some digestive disorders, such as peptic ulcers.
- Simethicone is found in products like Gas-X, Mylanta and Mylicon and works by breaking up the bubbles in gas, however, they haven’t been scientifically proven to be effective for eliminating gas or pain from gas.
- Activated charcoal, such as in CharcoCaps or Charcoal Plus, can be taken before and after a meal, but like simethicone, activated charcoal has not been proven effective in research.
- Peppermint oil is an essential oil that has been shown to alleviate the severity of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and gas. You can use it topically on the abdomen or aromatically, inhaling a fine mist or the vapor of the oil.
- Herbs such as ginger, chamomile, dill, fennel, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, and parsley are in the carminative family, which have been shown to break up and expel gas. Try adding these herbs to your food.
- Probiotics may also help in reducing excessive gas. Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, or they can be found in supplement forms. Look for probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Lifestyle Approaches to Reduce Gas
There are ways to reduce gas through lifestyle changes as well, including:
- Eat slowly. Gulping down food also causes you to gulp down extra air, which can lead to more gas. Take smaller bites and chew food thoroughly.
- Avoid chewing gum and drinking straws, which can cause you to swallow more air.
- Reduce stress. Stress can make gas worse, causing spasms in the colon. Relaxation therapies including yoga, meditation and counseling can help reduce stress.
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