Many people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also find that they have symptoms of abdominal bloating or distention. One cause of this uncomfortable problem may be gas in the digestive tract. Bloating can be painful, embarrassing, and can limit your wardrobe choices to pants with elastic waistbands. Fortunately there are several ways to deal with gas and bloating.
Causes Of Gas And Bloating
Bloating is commonly caused by intestinal gas. One cause is eating foods that create gas. Swallowing air while eating is often done unconsciously and may result in frequent belching during or after meals. To avoid swallowing air, slow down when eating, don't 'slurp' drinks, and don't talk while chewing. Also try to avoid chewing gum, eating hard candy, drinking carbonated beverages (such as soda pop), and drinking liquids through straws.
Preventing Gas And Bloating
The best way to prevent gas caused by foods is to avoid those foods that contribute to intestinal gas. Every person is affected by foods differently, but foods that commonly cause gas are:
- Brussels sprouts
Lactose intolerance is a condition that may also contribute to abdominal bloating. Many people are unable to digest lactose, which is the sugar that is found in cow's milk. This condition is more common in adults, but some children (especially over the age of 2) may also be found to be lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is different than a true milk allergy. Avoiding foods with milk, such as ice cream or cheese, can help avoid the problem, but this is not always practical or desirable. Today several products are available which are lactose-free or can help lactose-intolerant people to digest the lactose that is found in milk products.
Treatments for Bloating
The ultimate goal is to prevent bloating from occurring in the first place, but once the problem is already present, there are a few ways to treat it. A heating pad or a hot bath may ease abdominal discomfort. Taking the supplement Beano when eating beans or legumes may help reduce the gas from those foods. Over-the-counter anti-gas remedies, which often contain polyethylene glycol or simethicone, may also help.
To expel troublesome intestinal gas, try taking a brisk walk or getting some other form of exercise. Frequent exercise can help keep the intestines working more efficiently and aid with digestion. If exercise fails, try laying quietly on your left side on a bed, couch, or the floor, and bring your knees up to your chest. This position can sometimes help release trapped gas.
Over-the-counter gas relief remedies may also be effective, but be sure to read all the ingredients. Some brands contain sorbitol, a food additive which has been shown to irritate the digestive tract and cause diarrhea, cramps, and pain.
More Uncommon Causes for Bloating
If the abdomen is tender to the touch or hard, contact your physician to make sure that there is not some other underlying cause for the bloating. Although uncommon, bloating can also be caused by more serious conditions. Persistent, progressive, or severe bloating, especially when accompanied by other symptoms and an increase in abdominal girth, should be checked out by a doctor right away.
Azpiroz F. "Understanding Intestinal Gas." International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc. 17 Jan 2013. 6 Aug 2013.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "Gas in the Digestive Tract." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 2 Jan 2013. 6 Aug 2013.