Gas is a common problem. The condition is so common that, on average, there are 20 instances of flatulence in a single day. Gas can be released through the rectum or the mouth. It can be mild or severe, painful, or intermittent. While most symptoms generally develop after eating or drinking, gas can also be an indication of a critical underlying medical condition. Trapped gas in the digestive tract is standard. Gas in the stomach comprises odorless vapors generally. This includes CO2, O2, H2, and nitrogen or methane. The unpleasant gas odor comes from bacteria within the large intestine, releasing sulfur gases. While having gas is common, it can cause discomfort and embarrassment. Understanding the way to reduce symptoms, causes, and treat the condition can offer relief.
Causes of Stomach Gas
Gas in the digestive tract, including the small intestine, stomach, esophagus, and large intestine, comes from two sources. The first is the normal breakdown of food that is undigested by harmless bacteria present in the colon/large intestine. Aerophagia or air swallowing is another cause of stomach gas. While eating or drinking, everyone swallows some air. Eating or always drinking, chewing gum, wearing loose dentures, or smoking can cause individuals to take in air.
Belching or burping is generally the way most individuals release swallowed air. This includes CO2, nitrogen, and oxygen, which leaves the stomach. Remaining gases move into the small intestine, where they are partially absorbed. A tiny amount goes into the large intestine for release through the rectum.
Note that the body does not absorb or digest all carbos such as sugar, starches, and fibers found in food types in the small intestine due to the absence or shortage of certain enzymes. This undigested food passes from the minor to the large intestine. In the latter part of the body, healthy, harmless bacteria break down the food, causing carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen in people. These gases eventually exit through the rectum.
Foods that lead to symptoms of gas in one individual may not necessarily cause gas in others. Some common large intestine bacteria destroy the hydrogen other bacteria produce. The balance of these two bacterial types explains why some people have higher gas than others. Furthermore, some individuals may also have a sensitivity to stomach gas symptoms.
Foods that Cause Gas
#1 Carbs and Sugar
Most foods rich in carb cause gas, as compared to fats and proteins. Sugars that lead to gas can be classified as stachyose, raffinose, lactose, verbascose, sorbitol, and fructose. Raffinose, verbascoce, and stachyose are indigestible oligosaccharides present in legumes such as beans. Small amounts of complex sugar are found in Brussel Sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, other veggies, plus whole grains. Lactose is natural sugar present in milk. It is located in milk products such as ice cream, processed foods, and cheese, including bread, salad dressing, and cereal.
Some people, especially of the African, Asian, or Native American background, possess lower levels of the enzyme lactase needed for digesting lactose. As individuals age, enzyme levels fall. Over time, people may experience increased flatulence after consuming foods rich in lactose. Fructose is naturally present in wheat, onions, peas and artichokes. It is even used as soft drinks and fruit drinks sweetener. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol present in fruits such as prunes, peaches, apples, pears, and certain liquid forms of medicines. Excessive amounts can trigger diarrhea. Sorbitol is used in diet artificial sweeteners and sugarless candies and gums.
Most starches, such as noodles, wheat, potato, and corn, produce gas. These break up within the large intestine. Rice is the only starch not causing flatulence.
Most foods contain soluble or even insoluble fiber. It is the soluble fiber that dissolves in water easily and takes on a soft, gel-type texture within the intestines. It is found in beans, peas, oat bran, and most fruits. Soluble fiber is not broken down till it reaches the large intestine, where digestion leads to gas.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, goes unchanged through the intestines and causes less gas. Wheat bran and vegetables contain this type of fiber. High fiber foods causing gas include peas/legumes, beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. High fiber foods raise gas production though fiber is essential for keeping digestion in good order and regulation of blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
#4 Other Dietary Factors
Other dietary factors contributing to increased gas in the digestive system range across the following:
- Soda, beer and other carbonated beverages increase stomach gas
- Eating habits such as drinking through straws, chewing gums, eating too fast, sucking on candies or chewing and talking results in additional air being swallowed.
- Fiber supplements rich in psyllium, such as Metamucil, can raise the amount of colonic gas.
- Sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners like xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol in sugar-free foods and beverages can cause excessive colonic gas.
#5 Top Causes of Stomach Gas
Too much Fiber
Generally, the food that is consumed can be blamed for excessive gas. Food that causes gas in one person may not cause gas in another. There are, however, some common culprits. Classic food groups include high-fiber items like fresh fruits, whole wheat, whole grains, fresh fruits, and cruciferous veggies. This includes kale, Brussel Sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. Fiber combats constipation, though it can cause gas if overeaten. So the essence of fighting stomach gas is moderation.
Eating Foods, You Are Sensitive To
Many older people have difficulty digesting milk products. So, if you are full-on lactose intolerant, the body’s level of lactase or enzyme that breaks down lactose can be lower, making dairy a problematic item on your diet. Individuals who are lactose intolerant experience cramps, flatulence, bloating, and other factors as soon as they ingest milk or other dairy products.
For some individuals, certain carbs such as sugars or starches can lead to gas. If one is sensitive to carbs, a low FODMAP diet should be followed. FODMAP stands for the term Fermentable Oligodo Monosaccharides and Polyols. This refers to specific types of sugar difficult to digest and left in the digestive tract to feed bacteria. If gas interferes with everyday life, you need to prescribe the FODMAP diet and then slowly get the foods prohibited back into the diet gradually.
Best ways to combat gas about food sensitivity are paying attention, with the aid of a medical professional. The doctor will check on a food diary to reveal patterns between what is being eaten and how one feels. That way, foods can lead to issues being avoided, so you can decide what to eat or avoid.
You’re Swallowing Excessive Air
A commonly overlooked symptom of gas is ingesting air through a situation called aerophagia. This occurs when you swallow excessive amounts of air while smoking, drinking carbonated beverages, eating or drinking too quickly, or talking to others while consuming food. It can also be caused by chewing gum, or savoring candies all day long, or sleep apnea. If there is gas during the morning or you wake up feeling too full, it may be due to the way you breathe as you sleep. Take a look at everyday habits and check where the extra air is coming from. Minimize the time for ingesting food by opting for non-carbonated beverages. Try not to talk while eating and avoid chewing gum.
You’re Consuming Way Too Much Food
Large, fatty meals take excessive time to digest, and hang longer in the gut, building up additional gas, as opposed to smaller, low-fat meals. Lengthy digestion can trigger classic bloating and gassiness. Further, eating quickly raises the chances of inhaling air along the way. This adds to the gassiness. If one would rather skip the feeling, the option should be to stick with frequent smaller meals rather than bigger meals. No matter what one is eating, the key is to eat mindfully. Paying attention to every bite is important; it affects your body.
You Don’t Walk After the Meal
After consuming a satisfying and delicious meal, it is a common practice to sit back and feel relaxed. One eats lunch at the desk, and if one stays put, there’s little chance of avoiding stomach gas. One of the best things for the digestive tract is keeping up regular physical activities. If you are dealing with gas, you can try for quick walks or stretches designed to ease gassiness and move digestion along.
Your Gut Bacteria Has Turned Negative
While the root reason for gas is bacteria, giving gut bacteria a helping hand can reign in the stomach’s gas-producing bacteria. Probiotics also help with this. They offer good bacteria and gut-friendly microbiota, which improves digestion. Try probiotics like supplements, kefir, or Greek Yogurt.
You Are Dealing with Gastrointestinal Conditions
Gas can be a symptom of GI disorders. In case it is isolated, it can result in diet or air swallowing. But if other symptoms like belly pain, weight changes, or heartburn are experienced, gas can signal a serious issue. GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, celiac disease, and intestinal blockages can cause excessive gas. If the gas does not resolve itself or causes other concerning symptoms, it is vital to consult the doctor.
If you feel gas is too much, notice the overall change in GI habits, flatulence comes with symptoms like abdominal pain. It is essential to check with the doctor, who can put your mind and gut at ease. Gas enters the digestive tract when one swallows air. When bacteria break down undigested foods, bacteria in the large intestine break down. More gas in the gastrointestinal tract signals took the air. Gas in the large intestine develops due to normal bacteria breakdown regarding certain types of unprocessed foods. Certain foods are easily digested, as against others — certain carbs like starches. Sugars and fibers are not digested in the small intestine. Instead, the food traverses the large intestine, where it is broken down by healthy bacteria. This natural process produces CO2, hydrogen, and sometimes, CH4. Therefore, gas symptoms may be experienced after consuming certain foods. These are foods that cause flatulence, bloating, and other symptoms.
Symptoms of Stomach Gas
The most common symptoms of gas include belching, abdominal bloating and pain, and flatulence. The determining factors are how long the fatty acids are absorbed by the body and the sensitivity to large intestine gas. Chronic symptoms caused by severe diseases or gases are rare.
Belching occasionally at the time of or after the meals is expected. Gas is released when the stomach is satiated with food. People who belch may also be swallowing excessive air and releasing it before the air entering the stomach. A person with chronic belching may suffer upper gastrointestinal disorders such as peptic ulcer, GERD, or gastritis.
If belching is creating discomfort in terms of pain continuing or worsening, there can be a real issue. The Meganblase syndrome is one such example. This syndrome causes chronic belching. It is characterized by severe air swallowing and enlarged gas bubbles in the stomach following a heavy meal. Resulting shortness and fullness of breath can replicate a heart disease. Such gas syndromes can be corrected through behavioral interventions.
The gas-bloat syndrome, for example, takes place post-surgery to correct GERD. This surgery creates a one-dimensional valve between the stomach and the esophagus that permits gas and food to enter the stomach. This problem can come in the way of normal belching or even the capacity to vomit. Surgery can correct gas-bloating syndrome.
Another common issue is the passage of excessive gas through the rectum due to flatulence. Most individuals don’t understand that passing gas 20-23 times a day is okay. But if it's higher, this signals too much gas caused by carbohydrate malabsorption or overactivity of bacteria within the colon.
A lot of people hold that excessive gas causes bloating of the abdomens. However, those complaining of has bloating often have normal gas distribution and amount. This issue may be aware of gas in the digestive tract. Doctors hold that bloating is caused by intestinal motility disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Abnormal movements and abdominal muscular contraction characterize motility disorders. This gives a sensation of bloating on account of increased gas sensitivity. Diseases like cancer or Crohn’s disease can also lead to abdominal bloating. Those with internal hernia, adhesions, or operations may also experience pain or bloating. Eating excessive fatty food delays stomach emptying and causes discomfort and bloating, but not too much gas.
Specific individuals experience pain when gas is present in the intestinal tract. Gas collecting to the left of the colon can be confused with heart disease. When it reaches the right side of the colon, it can lead to appendicitis or gallstones.
Thus, gas can cause numerous digestive symptoms varying across individuals. Common symptoms include burping, belching, stomach bloating, distension, or chest pains. But you do need to talk with your doctor if gas or gas pains are persistent or severe, interfering with the ability to function well in everyday life. Gas or pains accompany other signs or symptoms, indicating chronic conditions. Check with your doctor if you experience blood in the stool, change in stool consistency or frequency of bowel movements, loss of weight, constipation, or diarrhea. Other symptoms that signal you need immediate care include recurrent, persistent nausea or vomiting, prolonged abdominal pains, chest pains, and issues. Gas in the stomach is caused basically by swallowing air when drinking or eating.
If the gas cannot be eliminated, take steps to reduce the gas amount the body produces. Working on dietary changes is the right starting point. A food journal should be in place to identify gas-triggering foods. Write down what is eaten and drunk, making a note of gas symptomatology. The next thing to eliminate is specific diet items and see if the gas production decreases. You can also modify your eating habits, drinking fewer beers, sodas, or other carbonated beverages. Slow down while consuming food and drinks. You also need to avoid chewing gum and candy. Don’t opt for straws, loose-fitting dentures, or smoking.
Besides lifestyle or dietary changes, medications can also help in managing symptoms. An OTC supplement, for example, contains alpha-galactosidase like beano that can break down carbs in veggies and beans. This supplement can be ingested before meals. A lactase supplement can also help the body to digest certain dairy products and prevent gas. For those experiencing gas, OTC gas relief medicines enriched with simethicone are an option. Such an ingredient helps the gas to be moved across the digestion tract. Activated charcoal can also improve gas and bloating symptoms.
Diagnosis and Cure
Gas can also be a digestive condition symptom. This condition can vary across the following:
IBD/Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Gas is often a symptom of this digestive disorder. IBD or inflammatory bowel disease refers to chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and ulcerative colitis, as well as Crohn’s disease. Symptoms range across weight loss, diarrhea, and pain, the abs which mimic gas pain.
IBS/Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This is a large intestine condition impacting a variety of symptoms like bloating, cramping, diarrhea, gas, and constipation.
Small Intestine Bacterial Growth
This condition causes excessive small intestine bacteria, damaging the lining of the intestines and making it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. Symptoms range across bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, belching, and gas.
If there is sensitivity to milk like lactose or gluten, there can be difficulty in the break-down of foods. Gas and abdominal pain can be experienced after eating foods or drinking beverages one is allergic to.
Lack of bowel movements regularly can build up in the abs, triggering bloating, and gas pains. Illness means less than three bowel movements per week. Increasing physical activity and fiber supplements ease constipation and stimulate intestinal contractions.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease/GERD occurs when the stomach or gut acid goes into the esophageal tract. It leads to persistent heartburn, regurgitation, nausea, stomach pain, gas indigestion.
An internal hernia occurs when internal organs get into the peritoneal cavity hole of the abdomen. This triggers intermittent abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.
Excessive gas is an earlier sign of colon cancer. This cancer develops in the large intestine.
Problems in Digesting Carbs
Problems in digesting carbs lead to bloating and gas. Lactose intolerance is a condition when there are digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, or bloating after consuming milk/milk products. Dietary fructose intolerance is a condition in which there is gastrointestinal symptomatology, such as diarrhea, bloating, or gas after consuming fructose food. Celiac disease is another problem. This autoimmune disorder is when gluten cannot be tolerated. Gluten protein is found in products like wheat, rye, barley, besides balms and cosmetics. Gluten can damage the small intestine lining, in the event of celiac disease.
Abnormal Gas Movements
Several conditions influence how gas moves across the intestine leading to gas and bloating problems. This includes abnormal adhesions, abdominal hernia, dumping syndrome, and diseases such as ovarian or colon cancer. If gas occurs after eating or drinking or goes away with OTC medicines, you may not need to see a doctor.
However, you do need to see a doctor if gas is persistent or impacts your daily routine. You need to check with the doctor if other symptoms affects gas.
Your doctor will examine your medical history, review of dietary habits, and physical exam. During the physical exam, the doctor may even touch the abdomen to see if there is tenderness or pathology. Listening to the abdomen’s functioning through a stethoscope also determines if the digestive tract is working well. Based on the exam and other symptoms, the diagnostic test may be prescribed.
A patient’s medical and physical history directs the evaluation. If the distention or bloating is constant rather than intermittent, enlargement of abdominal organs, fluids, tumors, or obesity can be considered. If distention or bloating is linked to increased gas, bacteria and flatulence may be interrelated. In case dietary history shows consumption of large amounts of milk, dairy, fruits fructose, sorbitol products, maldigestion, and sugar malabsorption cause distention.
When a person complains of stomach gas, judging the frequency and intensity is essential.
Simple abdominal X-rays taken during bloating or distention confirm air to be the cause of enlargement. Large amounts of air can easily be seen within the intestine or stomach. The purpose of the problem can be suggested by examining the places where the gas has accumulated. For example, in the case of stomach gas, emptying your stomach is possibly a problem.
Small Intestine X-Rays
Small intestinal x-rays in which barium fills and outlines the small intestine, is useful for little intestine gas. It determines if there is obstruction of the small intestine.
Rate of Gastric Emptying
Studies measure the ability of the stomach to empty contents. Gastric emptying studies show a test meal labeled with radioactive substances is consumed. Then, the Geiger counter-type device placed over the abs measures the rapidity with which test meals empty from the stomach. A delay in gastric emptying signals stomach radioactivity and suggests pyloric stenosis and gastroparesis.
MRI, CT Scan and Ultrasound
Imaging studies and analyses using ultrasound examination, computerized tomography/CT, and MRI/magnetic resonance imaging cause distention due to abdominal organ, fluid, or tumor increasing in size.
Maldigestion and Malabsorption Studies
Two kinds of studies are used for diagnosing maldigestion and malabsorption, namely general and specific tests. The most feasible test is a 72-hour stool collection, in which fat is measured. If pancreatic problems or diseases in the small intestine lining are causing malabsorption/maldigestion, the fat amount rises before starches and proteins in the stool. Tests can also be carried out for maldigestion of individual sugars commonly maldigested including sorbitol and lactose. Specific criteria include the ingestion of sugar, following which there is hydrogen/CH4 breath testing. Sugar fructose is a sweetener like lactose or sorbitol, causes flatulence, bloating and distention. The problem can also take place when fructose differs from lactose or sorbitol. The small intestine and pancreatic intestine poorly digest lactose and sorbitol. Fructose is usually absorbed but passes through the small intestine, so there is no time for digestion or absorption.
CH4/Hydrogen Breath Testing
The most convenient way for testing bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine is hydrogen or methane breath testing. The gas produced by colonic bacteria is composed of methane or hydrogen. For hydrogen or CH4 breath testing, non-digestible sugars like lactulose are eaten. Following this, breath sample analysis is taken. When the lactulose reaches the colon, bacteria form CH4 or hydrogen. Some of the hydrogen or CH4 is absorbed in the blood and released in the breath, where it is measured through sample analysis.
In average and healthy persons, there is a single peak of CH4 or hydrogen, at the point that lactulose comes into the colon. In persons with bacterial overgrowth, there are dual hydrogen or CH4 peak values.The first takes place when lactulose passes and is mixed with the small intestine bacteria. The second one takes place when the colon receives the lactulose and mixes it with colonic bacteria. Hydrogen/H2 breath testing for overgrowth may use lactose, fructose, glucose, or sorbitol as testing sugar.
OTC Medications for Curing Stomach Gas
An intriguing treatment for excessive flatulence is alpha-D-galactosidase. This is an enzyme created using a mold. The protein called Beano is consumed as a tablet or liquid along with meals. The catalyst is used to break polysaccharides, which are difficult to digest in vegies. This prevents the enzyme from reaching colonic bacteria and causing unnecessary gas production. Beano decreases the intestinal gas amount.
Other treatment types for stomach gas include activated charcoal and simethicone. Simethicone comprises treatments like Gas-X, Mylanta Gas, Flatulex, and Phazyme. It is not clear how simethicone impacts stomach gas. However, it does not affect colonic gas. In the stomach, simethicone can change swallowed air, which is mentioned as an uncommon intestinal gas cause. Activated charcoal, on the other hand, prevents colonic gas formation. When maldigestion is due to pancreatic enzymes, supplements of these pancreatic enzymes can be ingested with meals for better recovery and instant relief.
If gas pains are due to health problems, treating the underlying condition is essential. Avoid gas using dietary measures, OTC medicines, or lifestyle solutions. With some degree of trial and error, most individuals can find relief. Dietary changes can lower gas or help it to move quickly through the digestive tract. Maintaining a diary of diet and gas symptoms can help the stomach specialist to determine options for changing the diet. You also need to eliminate items or eat smaller portions of food.
Working on dietary factors can improve gas symptoms. First of all, study the high-fiber foods you have such as beans, broccoli, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, apples, prunes, peaches, pears, wholewheat, bran and Brussels Sprout. Experiment with which foods impact one the most. Avoid high-fiber foods for some time and add these back. The next thing to do is reduce dairy products or milk from the diet to see if this lessens symptoms. Try lactose-free dairy products or milk products supplemented with lactase. Reduce or eliminate sugar substitutes. Try cutting down on fatty or fried foods. Another good option is to reduce intake or avoid carbonated beverages. Water can also help to ward off the gas as does fiber supplement.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Making lifestyle modifications can also relieve or reduce excessive gas pain. Many of the food items causing gas are even considered healthy. Try eating smaller portions of the food to ensure gas is reduced. Eat-in a slow, measured way and avoid gulping. Avoid sucking on hard candies, chewing gum, or drinking through straws.
Additionally, loose dentures can lead to excess air being swallowed, further aggravating gas. Cigarette smoking increases the air took and impacts digestion. Regular exercise reduces constipation linked gas.
The best home remedies that work for combating gas are discussed below:
A compound like thymol is found in carom seeds. It secretes gastric juice helping to boost digestion. Half a teaspoon of carom seeds with water one time a day can help.
Drinking cumin seeds or powdered cumin in water is another excellent remedy for stomach gas. Cumin is rich in essential oils stimulating salivary glands, helping in better food digestion, and preventing excessive gas formation. Take a tablespoon of cumin seeds and boil these in 500 ml of water for ten to fifteen minutes. After letting it cool, strain and drink the water post the meal.
Mix half a teaspoon of asafetida with lukewarm water and drink it to curb gas issues. Asafetida prevents gut bacteria growth and avoids excessive gas. According to Ayurveda, it eliminates Vata dosha or air energy preventing colonic build-up of gas.
Another case of Ayurvedic remedy is grating a teaspoon of fresh ginger and having it with a lime juice teaspoon post the meals. Drinking ginger tea is a useful gas relief remedy. Gas is relieved by taking this natural carminative substance.
Lime Juice + Baking Powder
Another simple remedy is to mix a glass of water with one teaspoon of lime juice and half a teaspoon of baking soda. Drinking this post the meal can help in forming CO2, which aids digestion.
Herbal ayurvedic mixtures such as Triphala can also eliminate gassiness. Steep half a teaspoon in boiling water for ten minutes and drink this before turning in. Be careful about the frequency and quantity of consuming this mix, as it is high in fiber and causes bloating if taken in excess.
Stomach gas is a healthy condition. It happens to most people. But regular sufferers should be aware that it can signal severe disorders like lactose intolerance, hormonal imbalance, or bowel obstructions. It is essential to use natural cures, but if the problem persists, do consult your doctor.