Gas (also known as flatus) is formed within both the stomach and the intestines when the body breaks food down creating energy. Although everyone passes gas, some people do so more often than others. On average, a person will pass gas between 6 and 12 times each day. If the flatus was simply expelling these gasses, very few people would care but the problems occur due to a few other gasses that are present in small amounts. These are the gasses that produce a "rotten egg" odor because they contain sulfur, which creates hydrogen sulfide when it is combined with hydrogen and it is that compound of hydrogen sulfide that produces this foul odor. Then let's read this article with some questions in mind: what causes gas? And how to get rid of gas?
What Causes Gas?
Gas can have several causes but here are some of the most common:
- Swallowed Air. When air is swallowed but not burped back up, it will pass through a person's digestive tract. When it reaches the end of the digestive tract it will be released as flatus through the anus. Another result of swallowing too much air can be hiccups.
- Foods and Beverages. The quantity of gas that a specific food or beverage will produce can vary between people depending on their body. In addition, the foods that produce odor or odorless gas will vary between people as well.
- Constipation. Although constipation can cause bloating, in most cases it will not increase the amount of gas a person's body produces.
- Medicines or Nutritional Supplements. Dietary supplements as well as medications (both nonprescription and prescription) may cause both gas and bloating as side effects.
- Medical Conditions. Some medical conditions can greatly affect a person's gas production. Two great examples of conditions that will increase gas production are Crohn's disease and a bowel obstruction.
- Hormone Level Fluctuations. One of the most common hormone level fluctuations that can cause increased gas is found in women right before they get their periods. This is because the hormones will cause bloating which will also influence gas production.
How to Get Rid of Gas
There are several ways you can get rid of gas, both on your own and with the assistance of a doctor. Here are some of the most common and effective method on how to get rid of gas.
- Avoid Gas-Causing Food. Foods that cause gas can vary from person to person so it is important to try to determine which ones affect you. Some of the most common foods that will cause gas for people include carbonated beverages, beer, ice milk, ice cream, cream, milk, muffins and bran cereals, whole-wheat bread, chewing gum and sugar-free candies, prunes, peaches, apples, pears, asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions and of course beans.
- Avoid Fried And Fatty Foods. A great deal of time eating fatty foods can cause bloating. That is because fat will delay the rate at which your stomach empties, thereby increasing your feeling of fullness.
- Reduce High-Fiber Foods Intake Temporarily. If you temporarily reduce your intake of high-fiber foods, you should see some improvement. Make sure to gradually add them back into your diet over the course of several weeks. If you are currently taking a fiber supplement, cut down on your current dose and then slowly build up the intake. If you are taking a supplement and you still experience gas despite cutting down your dose, try a different supplement. Always make sure to take your supplement with 8 ounces of liquid and drink plenty of water each day.
- Cut Down Diary Products Intake. Dairy is one of the food groups that will cause gas in many people so reducing your intake should help eliminate gas. Opt for low-lactose versions of your favorite dairy foods such as opting for yogurt instead of drinking milk. You can also try products that will aid in digesting lactose, like Dairy Ease or Lactaid. Another way to make dairy products easier to digest is having them with other foods or only having small amounts at a given time. Some people, however, may need to completely eliminate dairy from their diet.
- Use OTC Products
- Beano. If you add a bit of Beano to vegetables and beans, they will cause your body to product less gas. For the best results, use it when there is very little gas inside your intestines and make sure to take it when you have your very first bite.
- Lactase supplements. The enzyme lactase helps the body digest lactose so people who are lactose intolerant should consider taking supplements of this enzyme (such as Dairy Ease and Lactaid). Another great option is to try dairy products which have reduced amounts of lactose or are even lactose-free, which should be available at your local grocery store.
- Simethicone. Simethicone can be found in many over the counter products such as Mylicon, Mylanta, Gelusil and Gas-X. These products will help destroy the bubbles found in gas. These over the counter products are very popular but have still not been proven completely effective for either gas or gas pain.
- Activated charcoal. Charcoal tablets such as Charcoal Plus and CharcoCaps can also help. You should take these both before and after your meal and they can be found in many drugstores and natural food stores.
- Have Smaller Meals and Eat Slowly. If you want to reduce your gas, try eating more frequent smaller meals during the day instead of 2 to 3 bigger ones. A simple thing to reduce gas is to simply chew each bite thoroughly without gulping it down. You can even put your fork down between each bite.
- Eat When Relaxed. If you eat when you are stressed, it can make digestion harder, so try to eat when relaxed.
- Skip Gum, Hard Candies and Straw. When you chew gum, suck on hard candies or use a straw, you can swallow more air, causing more gas to build up.
- Check Your Denture. If you wear dentures that do not fit well, you may be swallowing extra air when eating and drinking.
- Quit Smoking. Smoking will also increase the amounts of swallowed air, so it is best to avoid it.
When to See a Doctor
Keep in mind that it is completely normal to pass gas between 10 and 12 times each day. However, you should visit a doctor
- If your gas causes severe, recurrent or prolonged abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea, weight loss, bloody stools, chest pain or fever;
- If the gas or related pains interfere with your life.