Fast Relief Tips for Gas and Bloating

1
What to Do for Gas and Bloating

Close-up of vegetable salad
WIN-Initiative/Neleman/Getty

Although often used by comedy writers for an easy laugh, for many people there is nothing funny about having to deal with intestinal gas and bloating. The experience of passing loud or smelly gas in social situations can be quite humiliating. Bloating, the sensation of increased abdominal pressure, can result in feelings of physical discomfort that range from unpleasant to debilitating. Whether you experience gas and bloating on an occasional or chronic basis, you will find reassurance in the fact that there are steps you can take to combat these distasteful digestive symptoms.

2
Learn What Causes Intestinal Gas

Bubbles in water
Mutlu Kurtbas/E+/Getty Images

It is normal and healthy for gas to be present throughout our digestive system. There are two main causes of intestinal gas: swallowed air and gas that is produced as a by-product of the digestion of certain foods. Most swallowed air is released through burping. The rest is either absorbed in the small intestine or travels through the intestines to be released through the rectum. Gas is also produced by intestinal bacteria as a breakdown product of food material.

3
Stop Swallowing Air

woman blowing bubble gum
Carol Yepes/Moment/Getty Images

To make sure you are not swallowing an excessive amount of air:

  • Eat slowly, so as to avoid gulping air as you are filling your belly.
  • Avoid chewing gum and hard candy.
  • If applicable, make sure your dentures fit properly.
  • Stop smoking.

4
Take a Look at What You Are Eating

gassy green vegetables
Jeff Kauck/Photolibrary/Getty Images

In the way of such things, many of the so-called gassy foods, foods that have a high potential for producing intestinal gas, are often foods that carry many nutritional benefits. Therefore, it is important to accurately identify the foods that your system has the most difficulty with rather than to willy-nilly cut out an entire group of foods, such as vegetables, because of their gassy reputation. Use a food diary and keep a careful record of what you eat and whether or not you experience gas afterward. You may find that your body can handle smaller amounts of a gassy food without a problem.

The researchers who have come up with the low-FODMAP diet for IBS have systematically identified certain foods that are more likely to cause gut fermentation. You may not need to be on the diet, but you might benefit from choosing more low-FODMAP foods when you really need to be gas-free:

5
Watch What You Drink

glass of cola
Jose Luis Pelaez/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It is easy to overlook our beverages when we are trying to figure out what sets our systems off. Carbonated drinks such as soda and drinks containing alcohol both have the potential for increasing intestinal gas and contributing to bloating. Then that gas has to come out somewhere... 

6
Try an Over-the-Counter Product

woman buying things at a drugstore
Zero Creatives/Cultura/Getty Images

There are a variety of over-the-counter products (OTCs) that are designed to reduce intestinal gas. Some of these products work by providing your body with specific digestive enzymes to help you to more effectively digest certain carbohydrates, therefore reducing their availability to be broken down into gas by intestinal bacteria.

How to choose? Check your food diary! If you have difficulty with dairy products, a lactase supplement may prove helpful. If you have difficulty with vegetables and beans, products such as Beano will help you to digest the sugars within those foods that are causing the problem. Products containing simethicone can also help with gas and bloating, but they don't work for everyone.

7
Try Probiotics

white pills and bottle
Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Often called “friendly bacteria,” probiotics are thought to help to create an optimal balance of bacteria within your intestines, helping to reduce excessive gut fermentation and therefore may be effective in reducing intestinal gas, bloating and excessive farting. Probiotics can be found in your drugstore aisle, but some of the more effective ones may require a prescription:

Another way to add probiotics to your gut is through eating fermented foods. Such foods have been prepared in a way that encourages the growth of friendly bacteria.

8
If Applicable, Treat Constipation

woman on toilet
Hitoshi Nishimura/Taxi Japan/Getty Images

People who suffer from constipation are more likely to experience intestinal gas and bloating. This may be because the gas gets trapped behind the excessive amounts of stool stored in the bottom parts of your colon. Flatulence that arises may be more odorous due to it making its way around the un-passed stool.

If you deal with chronic constipation, talk to your doctor about developing a treatment plan.

9
Put Things in Perspective

young man covering face with embarrassment
Richard Drury/The Image Bank/Getty Images

If you have the unfortunate experience of passing unwanted gas while in the presence of others, remember that although this is embarrassing it is not the end of the world. Everyone passes gas! It is helpful to keep in mind that no one will judge you based on what your body does. Just say “excuse me” and get on with your day. By handling the situation with grace and dignity, you also serve as a role model for those around you should the situation happen to them someday (and it will!)

Sources:

Azpiroz, F. & Serra, J. "Treatment of Excessive Intestinal Gas" Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology 2004 7:299-305.

Houghton, L., Lea, R., Agrawal, A., Reilly, B. & Whorwell, P. Relationship of Abdominal Bloating to Distention in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Effect of Bowel Habit Gastroenterology 2006 131:1003-1010.

Friedman, G. “Diet and the irritable bowel syndrome” Gastroenterology Clinics of North America 1991 20:313-324.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) Gas in the Digestive Tract.

Continue Reading