Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the stomach feels full and tight due to the buildup of gas in the small intestine.
Although the production of gas is a natural part of the digestive process, many people dread the possibility of passing gas in front of others. An uncontrollable fart at an inconvenient time can make a person the butt of jokes for years to come.
Most people pass gas, also known as flatulence, about 10 times a day. Thus, it’s a normal affair. However, the formation of excess gas in your stomach is no laughing matter.
Gas forms in the stomach when bacteria in the colon ferment carbohydrates that were not digested properly in your small intestine. This usually involves high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans and peas (legumes).
Bloating and excessive gas can make the stomach area visibly swollen, which is called distention.
Contributing Factors to Gas Buildup and Bloating
A number of factors can cause gas and bloating. The common causes are:
- Abnormal levels of bacteria in the small intestine
- Swallowing/gulping air
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Drinking through a straw
- Chewing gum and hard candy
- Food intolerances (e.g., milk products and legumes)
- Water retention
- Peptic ulcers
- Some medicines
Medical conditions that may cause bloating are:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Celiac disease
- Ascites and tumors
- Celiac disease
- Dumping syndrome
- Ovarian cancer
- Problems with the pancreas not producing enough digestive enzymes (pancreatic insufficiency)
Common Symptoms Associated with Gas and Bloating
Along with frequent flatulence, symptoms associated with excess stomach gas and bloating include:
- Bad breath
- Lack of appetite
- A coating on the tongue
- Sharp cramps in the abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Lower back pain
Standard Treatment for Gas and Bloating
In most cases, gas and bloating can easily be treated at home with a few dietary adjustments.
As a general rule of thumb, cutting down on salty foods, carbohydrates, and fizzy drinks is one of the preliminary steps towards ridding yourself of gas problems.
Some people even benefit from reducing their intake of certain foods that are universally recognized as common triggers. These include lactose products, foods containing onion or garlic, wheat, rye, and stone fruits.
Other steps to manage gas and bloating depend on their cause:
Constipation means that the ingested food will sit longer in your bowels, allowing prolonged fermentation and excessive gas production.
If your bloating is a by-product of constipation, simple dietary interventions such as increasing your consumption of high-fiber foods and the amount of fluids you drink can do you a world of good.
Additionally, anyone with gas issues is recommended to shun their sedentary lifestyle for a more active one.
Unfortunately, some don’t have it so easy and have to rely on laxatives to treat constipation.
Coeliac Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)
When medical conditions such as coeliac disease or IBS are at the base of your gaseous troubles, you will need to follow a strict diet that usually involves swearing off certain dairy products, wheat and other grains, and some fruits and vegetables.
Often times, the excessive gas buildup after eating certain foods can be explained by a condition called food intolerance. To identify the particular foods that don’t sit well with your system, you may need to try an elimination diet under the guidance of your doctor or dietitian.
Before you consider adopting these changes, it is essential that you get a proper diagnosis first.
Once you are certain about the condition, work with your doctor and dietitian to come up with an appropriate eating plan to address bloating and other symptoms that you are experiencing.
Furthermore, probiotics containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are often recommended by doctors to alleviate bloating by reducing the production of gas in the gut.
Natural Treatment Options for Gas and Bloating
Here are some simple ways to get rid of abdominal bloating and gas.
1. Fennel Seeds Act as a Carminative
- Chew on a few fennel seeds after eating a big meal.
- Add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds to 1 cup of hot water. Cover the cup and allow the seeds to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain it. Have this tea two or three times a day.
2. Peppermint Eases the Pain
Peppermint contains menthol oil, which has an antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract.
Peppermint helps relieve spasms in the gastrointestinal tract and is particularly helpful in relieving symptoms of IBS.
It also reduces flatulence and helps food pass through the stomach quickly.
- You can chew on fresh peppermint leaves for relief from bloating.
- Another option is to steep a peppermint tea bag in hot water for about 10 minutes and drink two to three cups of this tea a day.
3. Ginger Helps the Body Expel Intestinal Gas
Ginger is a well-known herb that can be used to reduce gas and bloating.
It contains several active ingredients, including the pungent compounds gingerols and shogaols.
Ginger increases gastrointestinal motility and the frequency of antral contractions and accelerates gastric emptying of a low-nutrient liquid in healthy volunteers.
- Place five to six thin slices of ginger in a cup and pour boiling water into the cup. Cover the cup and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Add a little honey and lemon juice to taste and drink up to three times a day.
- Another option is to eat 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger before meals. You can also grate the ginger root and sprinkle it on your food.
- Adults can opt to take 0.25 to 1 g of powdered ginger root daily.
4. Chamomile Tea Relieves Stomach Gas
Chamomile tea is another effective option to get relief from bloating.
Chamomile is used as a digestive relaxant to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence (gas) and gastrointestinal irritation.
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Pour it into a cup containing one chamomile tea bag. Cover the cup and let the tea bag steep for 10 minutes.
- Squeeze out the tea bag and add some lemon juice or honey as desired.
- Sip the tea slowly. Have this tea two or three times a day between meals.
5. Caraway Seeds Facilitate Gas Expulsion
Caraway has antispasmodic effects as well as antimicrobial and carminative properties.
Two chemicals present in caraway seeds, carvol and carvene, help soothe the smooth muscle tissues of the digestive tract and promote the release of gas to give you relief from stomach bloating.
- If you suffer from frequent bloating, chew a pinch of caraway seeds several times throughout the day.
- If the taste of raw caraway seeds is too strong for you, try some caraway crackers.
- Alternatively, you can brew crushed caraway seeds to make a tea.
6. Probiotics Balance Healthy Gut Flora
Probiotics also figure as part of the standard treatment strategy for digestive distress, including excessive gas.
The human gut is naturally populated with health-promoting bacteria, along with the unfavorable kinds. Both the good and bad flora together maintain a healthy equilibrium in the gut environment. It is when either one overpowers the other that digestive trouble arises.
Probiotics are essentially live cultures of microorganisms that are akin to the “good bacteria” found in the human gut.
Incorporating the best probiotic foods that contain strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Saccharomyces boulardii will help improve or restore the gut flora.
Before buying, make sure to check the label of the probiotic product to ensure that it contains one or more of the above-mentioned microbes.
7. Turmeric Improves Digestion
Turmeric is touted as one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories there is.
Much of its healing potential is attributed to its prized extract curcumin, a bright-yellow chemical compound that helps stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile. Bile then mixes with our food contents and aids in the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine.
It also facilitates the elimination of certain waste products along with the feces.
Turmeric, thus, helps ensure the smooth functioning of the digestive system and prevent indigestion, bloating, and gas.
- Mix 1 tsp of turmeric powder with ½ tsp of cinnamon powder and 2 tbsp of honey in 1 cup of almond or coconut milk.
- Place the mixture in a pan and heat it until it’s about to boil.
- Cool the content and drink it.
8. A Pinch of Asafetida Relieves Gas Pains
- Just add a pinch of asafetida to 1 glass of warm water and mix it well. Drink this two to three times a day.
- Alternatively, put a small amount of asafetida into a ripe banana and eat it. Do this twice a day.
- For topical application, make an asafetida paste by mixing it with a little water. Apply the paste on your stomach and allow it to dry for a few minutes. Soon, your gas will dissipate.
9. Cumin Seeds Relieve Gas
Cumin is prized as a digestive aid for its ability to solve a host of your tummy woes. Not only is cumin replete with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, but it is also acknowledged as a potent antibacterial and antiseptic.
Supercharging your diet with a generous sprinkling of cumin seeds will help fortify your digestive tract, enhance blood circulation, and relieve common stomach problems such as nausea, bloating, and constipation.
- Add a pinch of ground cumin along with a pinch of sea salt and ground ginger in 1 cup of water and drink the mixture.
- You can also mix ground cumin with jaggery or honey and consume the mixture.
10. Anise Tea Soothes Digestive Distress
Anise contains antispasmodic qualities that help relax the smooth muscles in your digestive tract, aiding in food movement and digestion.
Anise also has carminative properties, which assist in removing excess air and flatulence. The best way to obtain the beneficial effects of this herb is by sipping anise tea.
11. Cinnamon is Worth a Try
Cinnamon will soothe your stomach and also prevent further buildup of abdominal gas.
- Add a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder to 1 cup of warm milk. Stir it well, and then drink the milk. You can also add some honey.
- Alternatively, you can make cinnamon tea by adding a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder (or a few cinnamon sticks) to 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 5 minutes, and then drink the tea.
Preventing Gas and Associated Bloating
If you are prone to gas without any particular medical condition accounting for it, the following lifestyle and dietary changes can help you prevent its buildup and its accompanying digestive distress:
- Don’t rush through your meals. Instead chew your food properly by eating slowly, which will help break down the food and make it easier for your stomach to process it later.
- Avoid fizzy drinks such as soda and other carbonated beverages.
- Eat your meals sitting down.
- Be mindful of the foods that trigger flatulence and other gas problems, and eliminate them from your diet. If you cannot do without them completely, minimize their intake.
- Make room for a regular exercise routine in your daily schedule. Taking a stroll after meals is an easy way to help your body digest the food better.
- Drinking through straws is known to cause excessive ingestion of air along with the drink and, therefore, should best be avoided.
- People who talk while eating tend to gulp in excessive air along with the food, resulting in gas retention in the stomach. Thus, it’s best you avoid talking while chewing your food.
- Quit smoking.
- Refrain from chewing too much gum that contains sorbitol.
- Up your fluid intake to prevent an uncomfortable buildup of gas. Insufficient fluid in the digestive tract paves the way for constipation.
- Because fibrous foods tend to make one gassy, it is essential that you experiment with different varieties until you find the one that is comfortably compatible with your system. Also, increase your fiber intake slowly.
When to See a Doctor
Discomforting as it is, but bloating due to excessive gas buildup in the stomach is rarely a cause of concern.
However, medical help becomes indispensable on the off chance that a more severe ailment is giving rise to abdominal swelling and bloating.
If despite the recommended dietary and lifestyle modifications your gaseous issues persist without any improvement for days or weeks, it can signify a severe medical condition such as liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, heart failure, renal dysfunction, and some types of cancer.
Moreover, if you experience the following symptoms along with the bloating, it is necessary that you seek medical advice at the soonest:
- Erratic changes in your appetite, including trouble eating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Stool marred with bright-red blood
- Black or dark maroon stools
An excellent way to relieve bloating is to encourage the relief of gas or trapped air and movement of the bowels.
Here are additional suggestions to decrease bloating and gas:
- Drink beverages at room temperature.
- Have your dentures checked for a good fit.
- Sit up straight after eating.
- Cut back on fried and fatty foods.
- Take a stroll after eating.
- To reduce odor, limit your consumption of foods high in compounds containing sulfur.
Bloating can interrupt your daily activities, but with these remedies, you can keep your stomach functioning correctly and safely.
Please note if your bouts of bloating are chronic, as your condition may require medication or a change in diet and lifestyle to resolve. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing gas and bloating on a regular basis.
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