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Controlling Gas

Simple treatments to control gas

Everyone produces gas as part of the digestive process which is passed either through belching or flatulence.

Gas is generally passed discreetly and painlessly, but some conditions can leave people susceptible to discomfort, bad odour, or passing gas more frequently than is usual for them. This can make gas an embarrassing condition that simple at-home remedies may be able to alleviate.

Gas is caused by two main factors:

Swallowing air

Swallowing too much air too quickly by chewing gum, eating too fast, or wearing dentures can lead to excess gas in the small intestine which must be released.

Digestion

Food is digested by bacteria present in the large intestine or colon. This natural process leads to the production of gasses such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. Hydrogen sulphide is the gas primarily responsible for any odour. The gas levels produced in the digestion process are unique to the individual, and some foods may cause gas in one person but not another.

While everyone’s different, some foods are more likely to cause gas than others.

  • Sugars such as raffinose, lactose, fructose, and sorbitol.
  • Starches such as potatoes, corn, and wheat.
  • Fibre, both soluble and insoluble, commonly found in oats, beans, nuts and fruit.

How to treat excess gas

Make dietary changes

You'll always have gas, but the food you eat can play a significant role in the frequency and odour of your gas. Making changes to your diet may restore excess gas to a more manageable level.

Reduce the amount of air swallowed

Eating slower, eating with your mouth closed, and avoiding chewing gum and cigarettes may reduce excess gas by reducing the amount of air you swallow.

Identify food intolerances

If you're intolerant to a food or food group (such as lactose), excess gas can be a side effect. If certain foods increase the frequency or odour of gas, take steps to avoid consumption.

Keep a food diary

Keep a seven-day food diary making a note of everything you eat and when gas is more frequent or has a more distinct odour.  While removing certain foods (like high fat and processed foods) from your diet may be recommended to reduce gas, be wary of eliminating whole food groups from your diet (unless under expert guidance), as removing essential nutrients may create further problems in the gut.

Over-the-counter remedies

Antacids containing simethicone may help reduce the symptoms of gas. To reduce odour, consider products which have chlorophyllin copper, or take lactase supplements (available in liquid and tablet form) to increase the digestive enzyme needed to digest carbohydrates efficiently.

If you've been suffering from frequent excess gas, discuss with your medical practitioner before taking or changing the dose of over-the-counter remedies.

See your GP

If you've changed your diet and tried over-the-counter remedies, but your gas is still excessive or has changed in frequency or odour, your doctor may prescribe further investigative treatment or medication.

Everyone has gas in their digestive tract that needs to pass.  Despite being uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing, excess gas isn't a severe medical issue. It's important to be aware that if gas is excessive and ongoing, it may be the sign of a more serious underlying illness so it's important to receive a thorough examination from a medical professional in case clinical treatment is required.