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For most people, the symptoms of Gas and Gas Pain are obvious. Every one has gas. Most people pass gas 13 to 21 times a day. Gas related symptoms include:

  • Voluntary or involuntary passing of gas, (belches or flatus)
  • Sharp, jabbing pains or cramps in the abdomen. These can change locations quickly and get better quickly.
  • A ‘knotted’ feeling in the abdomen.
  • Swelling and tightness in the abdomen (bloating).

Sometimes the symptoms can be painful, constant or intense which may feel like something is seriously wrong. Medical attention is needed if the following symptoms persist:

  • Prolonged abdominal pain
  • Bloody stools
  • A change in stool color or frequency
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent or recurrent nausea or vomiting

What causes Gas and Gas Pain?

Food and Drinks

Gas forms when we swallow air or when bacteria in the colon and large intestine ferments certain carbohydrates that are not digested elsewhere in the digestive system. For this reason, High Fibre Foods commonly cause gas or gas pain, especially if the body is not used to them. Our bodies typically get accustomed to a high fiber diet and thus gas symptoms can decrease over time if fibre intake remains high. Carbonated beverages such as soda and beer, also cause gas. Food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance (celiac disease) also cause gas. In addition, fatty foods and fried foods can cause bloating.

Swallowed Air

Every time we eat or drink, we swallow some air. We may also swallow air when nervous. Eating too fast, chewing gum and candies and drinking through a straw, increases the swallowing of air. This can lead to gas or gas pain.

Health Conditions

Excess gas may be a symptom of a health condition. Examples include diverticulitis or an inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Excess gas and bloating may also be a symptom of pregnancy and from bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine from conditions such as diabetes. Constipation can make it difficult to pass gas, leading to bloating and discomfort.

Artificial Additives

Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol, found in some sugar-free foods, gums and candies can increase gas in some people. They can cause diarrhea and cramps when consumed.

Medications

Some common medications through their active ingredients or their inactive ingredients can increase gases and bloating in patients. Talk to your pharmacist to identify if your gas related symptoms may be related to one of your medications.

How Can You Prevent Gas or Bloating?

Here are some hints to help prevent gas and cramping.

  • Minimizing chewing gum, and stopping smoking
  • Reducing consumption of carbonated beverages such as soda and beer
  • Eating and drinking more slowly
  • Avoiding eating large meals, especially late in the day
  • Identifying or minimizing offending foods
  • Cutting back fried and fatty foods
  • Avoiding rapid change in diet
  • Exercising can improve and maintain the stomach and intestinal function

Medications to Help Reduce Gas

Over the counter medications such as Beano, Lactase Supplement, Simethicone and Activated Charcoal may assist in the reduction of gas and bloating. Since the cause of the symptoms can be different for each person, talk to your health care provider to identify the correct medication for your gas related symptoms.

References:

  1. Gastrointestinal Gas—What You Need to Know. Compendium of Therapeutics for Minor Ailments. Canadian Pharmacists Association (2016)
  2. Gas- US National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. (2016)
  3. Gas and Gas Pain- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2016)

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This article was provided by an Rxnet Pharmacist, Rxnet is a virtual pharmacy network that helps plan sponsors optimize their drug plan design to obtain cost efficient solutions for their plan members. We also work with clients to provide access to our member pharmacies through text refills and online refills.

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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

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