Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Passing gas is very common, and most people do it more than 20 times a day either orally or through the anus. The medical term for releasing gas through the anus is flatulence, commonly known as passing wind or farting, and when gas is released through the mouth, it is termed belching or burping.
Farting and belching are natural processes of releasing extra air from the body and do not indicate any serious health issues until the body starts producing excessive gas. Excessive gas can be a sign of severe health complications and necessitates early attention to manage the condition.
In this article, you will read about the causes of gas, health complications that can occur due to excessive gas, and the Top 12 tips to naturally manage the condition.
How does gas form?
Gas is a normal part of the digestion process and it can occur due to various factors, which include:
- Swallowed air: Swallowing air while consuming food or liquid is very common, as your mouth isn’t vacuum sealed. The bloodstream absorbs the oxygen and nitrogen from the swallowed air, and the excess air is carried out through the nose or the mouth. Drinking carbonated beverages and eating quickly are the most common ways in which you swallow more air than usual, and this leads to the occurrence of gas.
- Intestinal bacteria: Your large intestine consists of a host of bacteria that aid digestion by fermenting some components of the food you eat, and in this process, your gut produces gas as a by-product. The bloodstream absorbs some amount of the gas which is released out of the body, through farts or burps.
- High fiber foods: Fiber is essential for your body as it improves the process of digestion. However, there are some compounds in fiber-rich foods that cannot be digested by the small intestine and cause gas. Include high fiber foods into the diet at a slow pace, so the bowel gets sufficient time to adjust.
- Lactose intolerance: Some people are lactose intolerant as they don’t produce enough amount of an enzyme called lactase, which is needed to break down lactose (a sugar found in milk and other dairy products) into the body. Foods that the small intestine cannot digest are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine by fermentation, which leads to the production of gas.
How to manage the occurrence of excessive gas
If you are experiencing excessive burping or flatulence, here are some of the foods that you should limit in your diet:
- Dairy products like milk, especially if you are lactose intolerant
- Dry fruits
- Fruits like apple, pear, peach, and apricot
- Legumes like beans, peas, chickpeas, and nuts
- Vegetables like carrot, onion, brinjal, cabbage, and broccoli
Health complications that can arise from excessive gas
A normal build-up of gas will cause a little and temporary discomfort, along with bloating. However, excessive gas can lead to abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss, and may also develop a feeling of fullness.
If you haven’t made any particular change to your lifestyle or diet and are experiencing excessive gas, here are some of the conditions that might have affected you.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that gives rise to abdominal pain, bloating, mucus in stool, irregular bowel movements, or a feeling of unfinished bowel movements. Under this condition, any easily digestible food can also cause gas.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): When the bottom muscles of the esophagus (the tube through which food passes from mouth to stomach) do not function properly, it can give rise to GERD. Under this condition, you may swallow more air than usual, which leads to excessive belching and experience a burning sensation in the heart, chest, or throat. GERD may also obstruct the process of swallowing and coughing, while smokers, pregnant women, and obese people are more likely to develop GERD.
- Heartburn: Eating too much too quickly in one sitting can lead to swallowing air with the food, which leads to the production of gas and causes heartburn. The condition can worsen while belching during or immediately after the meal because it gives rise to more acid in the throat. Drinking fizzy alcoholic drinks like beer or carbonated beverages can also lead to the occurrence of gas and heartburn together.
- Gallstones: Excessive gas may also be a sign of gallstones. You may experience bloating, fullness, nausea, chronic diarrhea, stomach pain along frequent belching or flatulence episodes. Gallstones might leave the body on their own if they are tiny in size, however, about 80% of people who have gallstones may need to undergo surgery for gallstones removal.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD): Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two conditions of IBD that give rise to inflammation in the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease usually affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and small intestine. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, affects the colon (the innermost lining of the large intestine) and rectum. IBD causes frequent episodes of burping and farting and can give rise to abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, bloating, and blood in the stool.
12 natural tips to manage or prevent excessive gas
- Drink chamomile tea
- Drink a glass of warm water before going to bed and right after waking up
- Consume a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in beverages like water or tea
- Exercise regularly to release trapped gas and to manage gas pain
- Consume cloves (laung), a herb used in cooking and with tea
- Avoid smoking
- Sit down and eat your meal slowly
- Avoid taking too much air while eating or talking
- Stop chewing gum
- Avoid fizzy and carbonated beverages
- Don’t consume foods that can cause gas
- Avoid drinking with a straw
Releasing gas is a natural phenomenon and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It can be painful in some cases, and may also give rise to other health complications if left untreated. After reading the aforesaid causes of gas and the diseases it can give rise to, you must have understood the importance of treating the condition. Avoid the foods and habits that can trigger gas in your body and follow the natural tips to manage the condition effectively, if already afflicted.
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