Sure, we joke about it all the time, but gas and bloating are completely normal parts of digestion. (Your older brother making you pull his finger before he farted—not so much.) Even still, it can be uncomfortable, especially when gas builds up and makes you bloated or leads to cramping. Read on for the simple steps you can take to relieve those symptoms.
What causes gas?
First, some background on gas: It's natural. We pass gas about 13 to 21 times a day. Excessive gas, on the other hand, isn’t. It can be caused by:
- Swallowing air while eating or drinking
- Chewing gum
There are also certain types of foods and drinks that can lead to gas, especially those that are high in fat, fried, spicy, carbonated or made with artificial ingredients. And, while fiber is a vital part of your diet and contributes to healthy digestion, consuming too much of certain kinds—either in food or supplements—can actually lead to gas and bloating.
There are some medical conditions that cause gas, namely:
- Lactose intolerance
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Peptic ulcers
- Irritable bowel syndrome
When should I see a doctor?
You should seek medical attention if your issues with gas occur suddenly, interfere with your lifestyle, don’t improve with changes, or are accompanied by constipation, diarrhea, and/or unexplained weight loss.
The FDA recommends 21 to 25 grams of dietary fiber per day for women and 30 to 38 grams for men.
How do I get rid of gas and bloating?
Here are some tips to get rid of gas and associated bloating and cramps:
Change up your diet.
Avoid eating the foods and beverages that can make you gassy.
Slowly increase your fiber intake.
While fiber can be associated with gas, you shouldn’t be eliminating it from your diet completely. The FDA recommends 21 to 25 grams of dietary fiber per day for women and 30 to 38 grams for men. If you find that increasing your intake to these amounts contributes to your gas and bloating issues, however, try a soluble fiber source like psyllium husk, and gradually take more and more fiber over time.
Taking a psyllium husk fiber supplement like Bellway can help you reach your fiber intake goals, while monitoring how much fiber you consume.
Try a natural remedy.
There are quite a few natural methods for relieving gas and associated bloating and cramps.
Studies have shown that peppermint tea can reduce gas, while chamomile tea can also help relieve indigestion, excessive gas, and bloating.
Drinking apple cider vinegar or clove oil mixed with water can reduce symptoms as well.
Take over-the-counter medications.
Simethicone—which you may know as Gas-X, Mylanta Gas, or Phazyme—can relieve gas by breaking up the gas bubbles in your stomach and intestines so they’re easier to pass, either up top or down below.
Taking activated charcoal before and an hour after meals can also help get rid of gas.
Physical activity can help release trapped gas, so try walking after meals or incorporating running and jumping rope into your exercise routine.
Take a lactase supplement.
If your gas and bloating could be a result of you being lactose intolerant, take a lactase supplement to help you digest foods that contain dairy.
How can I avoid getting gas entirely?
As long as your issues with gas and bloating are not related to a medical condition, you can take these steps to prevent excessive gas:
- Sit while eating
- Chew slowly when eating, and try not to take in too much air
- Avoid chewing gum, soda, and other carbonated beverages
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid drinking with straws