Stomach gas is present in all people. We produce about one gallon of gas every day. Some people think that they have excessive gas, but the truth is people pass it up to 14 times a day. So there’s no need to worry when you fall on this range.
Gas is composed mainly of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and even methane. Normal bacterial flora in the large intestines also produces sulfur, which is responsible for the unpleasant odor of gas.
Although passing gas is normal occurrence, excessive production that leads to abdominal distention and pain may be associated with some other factors that need medical attention.
Gas in the gastrointestinal system comes from two basic sources: swallowed air and breakdown of foods.
Air swallowing is one of the common causes of gas because almost everyone swallows air while eating and drinking. Having loose dentures, smoking, chewing gum, and eating fast also lead to aerophagia or air swallowing. Swallowed air normally leaves the digestive tract through burping. The remaining gas travels to the small intestines and to the large intestines to be eliminated through the colon.
Breakdown of Undigested Foods
Some food components such as carbohydrates are not digested in the small intestines; rather, they pass through the colon to be acted upon by bacterial flora to be converted into gas. Some people may produce methane and some won’t, but researches have not been able to identify why. People who produce methane gas have stools that float in water. Foods rich in fats and proteins only produce small amount of gas.
Foods groups that cause gas include the following:
Sugars such as lactose, raffinose, fructose and sorbitol produce more gas. Foods that contain these sugars include beans, milk, dairy products, onions, pears, apples, peaches, sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, soda and fruit juices. Diabetic foods and sugarless gums and candies also contain sorbitol.
Potatoes, pasta, corn, and wheat forms gas as they pass through the colon. Rice, on the other hand, does not cause stomach gas.
Soluble fiber is broken down in the large intestine and cause gas. Soluble fibers include peas, oats, whole grains, wheat, bran and in most fruits. Insoluble fiber remains unchanged until excreted which means that they do not form as much gas as in soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber or high residue foods are contained in most leafy vegetables.
Some illness causes abnormalities in the digestive tract leading to excessive production of gas. Possible diseases that cause stomach gas pain include:
- Lactose intolerance
- Acid reflux
- Gall stones
- Ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease (inflammatory diseases of the intestines)
- Intestinal Obstruction or tumor in the colon
The severity of symptoms of gas formation depend on the amount of gas produced as well as individual tolerance to gas. The most common symptoms include:
Passing gas through the colon is the most common symptom of stomach gas. When gas is not passed through flatus, abdominal distention and pain occurs. An individual passes flatus up to 14 times a day or more.
Belching or burping is also one mechanism to release gas. However, too much belching may also be a sign of other diseases such as gastroparesis, acid reflux or peptic ulcer disease.
Abdominal distention or Bloating
Bloating occurs as a result of inability to pass gas. Other people are also sensitive to even small amount of gas and feel bloated.
Stomach gas pain is usually felt when distention causes other abdominal organs to be compressed, leading the nerves to cause a pain sensation. Abdominal pain may be assessed further to rule out inflammatory disorders such as appendicitis.
Stomach gas pain can be caused by underlying disorders so thorough diagnosis is required. The following items are the examinations and tests done to confirm diagnosis.
Dietary History Taking
A person’s dietary pattern should be assessed to determine intake of gas-forming foods. Frequent intake of these foods may lead to stomach gas pain.
Physical examination of the abdomen
Examination is essential to assess distention and any tenderness over the area that may signify inflammatory disorders in the abdomen.
Breath test is done to determine presence of lactose intolerance especially if gas pains are accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting after ingestion of milk.
Ultrasound, CT scans or x-rays of the abdomen are sometimes done to rule out any abnormalities such as obstructions or tumors.
Stomach gas treatment is primarily undertaken through correction of the underlying cause. Aside from this, diet modification and medications may also relieve gas pains. How to remove gas from stomach? Follow these suggestions:
Limit intake of gas-forming foods such as those discussed earlier. However, limiting them may also mean cutting out of essential nutrients found in these foods. It is then recommended to limit intake of sodas and specific foods that cause gas formation in an individual because not all gas-forming foods cause excessive gas in all people. Keep a diary on food intake to determine foods that cause gas pain.
Some food supplements cater to gas pain problems. Beano is one kind of these supplements that prevents gas formation from foods.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are available to treat flatulence. Digestive enzymes are OTC drugs that hasten the digestion of carbohydrates. Lactase is an enzyme to digest lactose and is available in the form of capsules and tablets. Available brands include Lactaid and
Medications prescribed by physicians to reduce gas include simethicone, a gastric stimulant. This drug enhances gastrointestinal motility to improve passage of gas. Antacids also helps prevent gas formation.
Reduction of swallowed air
Reduce aerophagia by avoiding chewing gums, eating slowly and wear properly fitting dentures.
Stomach gas Remedies
How to reduce gas in stomach is one of the most sought answers because all people suffer from it. The following advices are remedies for stomach gas which can be done at home.
- Mix ginger powder, carom seed and black salt in a glass of water in same quantities. Drink the solution after meals to reduce gas formation.
- Mix powdered cinnamon in a glass of warm water. Take this about 30 minutes before eating meals.
- Drink teas with chamomile, peppermint or fennel. These contain antispasmodic properties to relieve gas pain.
- How to release gas from stomach? Lie flat on bed with knees pulled towards the chest. This helps in expelling flatus and relieves pain.
- Increase fluid intake to help with digestion.
- Consider acupressure. This measure relieves tension thereby stimulating the digestive system.
How to avoid gas in stomach? Preventing stomach gas involves measures listed below:
- Avoid gas forming foods such as beans, sugar-free candies and gums, whole grains, carbonated drinks, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and onion. Eat in moderation to prevent gas.
- Do not eat food during times when you are stressed, upset or tired. This slows down the digestive system and leads to gas formation.
- Consume small frequent meals rather than three big meals.
- Eat slowly to prevent air swallowing and gas build up.
- Avoid smoking. Air can be swallowed together with inhaling smoke so avoid this bad habit.
- Limit utilizing straw when drinking. Taking sips from straw also allows air to enter the body.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise increases the motility of the intestines and prevents gas build-up.
Stomach gas does not lead to serious complications, but underlying conditions that cause it does. Make sure to consult a physician regarding this. The most common effects of stomach gas build-up is abdominal cramps, uncomfortable feeling and loss of appetite due to bloating.
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