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Gas Symptoms - Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence

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Gas symptoms include belching, bloating and distension, and passing gas. This article gives detailed information about the gas symptoms.

Written by

Dr. P. Saranya

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At December 14, 2022
Reviewed AtJanuary 19, 2024

Introduction

Gas is a part of the normal digestive process. Normally, gas is released from the body through burping or flatulence. Gas can induce pain if gets trapped or not moving well through the digestive system. Gas is caused mostly due to eating certain foods. Usually, gas is not a serious problem and can occur in any person. Gas is not life-threatening also. Sometimes, it can be embarrassing and painful and interfere with daily activities.

What Are the Symptoms of Gas?

The symptoms of gas vary in every individual. The common gas symptoms are belching, bloating and distension, flatulence, abdominal pain, and discomfort. Gas is normal, especially during or after meals. Normally, the gas comprises odorless vapors like carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane.

What Is Belching?

Belching is the body’s way of getting rid of excess air from the upper digestive tract. It is the release of gas through the mouth. Belching is also known as burping. People normally belch around 30 times a day.

1. What Are the Causes of Belching?

Sometimes, people belch more often than normal. Belching is caused by swallowing excess air. A person may swallow excess air when eating too fast, talking while eating, chewing gums, drinking carbonated beverages, sucking hard candies, and smoking. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can sometimes cause belching. Chronic belching is often due to an infection with helicobacter pylori, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or gastritis.

2. What Are the Ways to Reduce Belching?

Eating and drinking slowly will not allow you to swallow excess air. Avoiding carbonated drinks and chewing gums and hard candies can reduce belching. Avoid smoking and alcohol, and taking antacids for gastroesophageal reflux disease can reduce belching. Change any unfitting dentures which can cause you to swallow excess air. Taking a short brisk walk after meals can help digestion and reduce belching.

What Are Bloating and Distension?

Bloating is when the belly (abdomen) feels full and tight, often due to gas. The abdomen may be swollen, stiff, and painful. Bloating differs from abdominal distension. Distension is a visible or measurable increase in the size of the stomach. Bloating and distension can occur independently, but mostly they co-exist. Some people have abdominal discomfort and pain along with bloating and distension. Bloating is usually associated with gastrointestinal disorders, but it may also appear alone. Bloating affects men and women of all ages. Bloating is also known as meteorism.

1. What Are the Causes of Bloating?

Overeating, eating fatty foods, eating too fast, drinking with a straw, smoking, alcohol, wearing loose dentures, chronic stress, and gastrointestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis, celiac disease can cause bloating and distension.

2. What Are the Ways to Reduce Bloating?

Abdominal bloating can be reduced by following simple lifestyle changes like eating slowly, avoiding chewing gum, carbonated drinks, and foods that create gas, like cabbages, lentils, cauliflowers, apples, and pears. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, and reducing salt intake can reduce bloating. Eating a low-fat and high-fiber diet and foods rich in potassium and using lactose-free dairy products can reduce bloating. Massaging the abdomen might sometimes relieve bloating.

What Is Flatulence?

Flatulence is the gas buildup in the intestines. It is the passing of gas through the anus, and the passed gas is called flatus. Healthy gas is harmless and odorless. Sometimes, the flatus may have an unpleasant odor due to the sulfur in the flatus. People pass flatulence an average of 8 to 14 times daily. Passing flatus through the anus up to 25 times daily is considered normal. People tend to pass sometimes, even without noticing.

1. What Are the Causes of Flatulence?

Flatulence is caused when the bacteria ferment the undigested food in the large or small intestine in the digestive tract. Sometimes, flatulence is caused when the body cannot digest certain components like gluten and sugars.

2. What Are the Ways to Reduce Flatulence?

Eliminate certain foods which can create gas and reduce fatty foods. Avoid products containing sugars like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, lactose, and dairy products. Choosing low-lactose dairy products, eating slowly, and eating smaller meals can help reduce flatus. Doing physical activity can promote digestion.

3. Abdominal Pain and Discomfort:

Gas can sometimes cause discomfort and abdominal pain. When gas collects in the left side of the intestine, the pain mimics the symptom of heart disease. When gas collects on the right side of the intestine, the pain mimics the pain related to gallstones or appendicitis.

How To Diagnose Gas?

The physician will enquire about the medical history and dietary habits and perform a physical examination. In a physical examination, the doctor will touch the stomach to see any tenderness or abnormalities. The doctor will listen to the sounds of the stomach using a stethoscope to know the functioning of the digestive tract.

The doctor will suggest additional imaging tests in the presence of additional symptoms like abdominal pain, blood in the stool, diarrhea, and weight loss.

Those tests include:

  • Blood Tests: To find out any infection.

  • Breath Test: This test can identify lactose intolerance if the breath contains hydrogen.

  • Screening for Colon Cancer: Patients aged over 50 years should be regularly screened to discover any colon disorders. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is used to view the lower part of the intestine and rectum, whereas a colonoscopy is used to view the entire colon and rectum.

How To Treat Gas?

Dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and over-the-counter medications usually treat gas symptoms. If there is an underlying medical condition, treating the condition will help relieve gas. Over-the-counter medications that help relieve gas symptoms include Simethicone, activated charcoal, lactase supplements, and alpha-galactosidase.

Conclusion

Gas symptoms like belching, flatulence, and bloating often resolve with simple lifestyle and dietary changes. But if they are accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, change in color, and frequency of stools, it indicates an underlying medical problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Where Is Gas Pain Felt?

Gas is usually formed in the intestine, it mostly gets collected on the left side of the colon, and the pain is often confused with heart disease. Knotted feeling over the abdomen with cramp is also indicative of gas pain.

2.

How Common Is Intestinal Gas?

Gas is formed in everyone; most of the individuals produce around one to four pints daily and pass gas 14 times a day normally. Intestinal gas is often produced as odorless vapors. It  is common and does not bother most individuals.

3.

What Does Gas Pain Feel Like?

Pain due to gas is from trapped gas. This occurs when there is not enough space for gas to move through the gastrointestinal tract. It aggregates due to certain food items that have a tendency to produce gas. In most cases, this pain can be misjudged with symptoms of heart-related conditions such as heart attack.

4.

Why Is Gas Painful?

As gas has a tendency to move through the digestive tract. It can stretch the intestines and stomach leading to jabbing, sharp pain, with bloating. Cramps are highly uncomfortable and cause intense pain.

5.

Who Is More Prone to Intestinal Gas?

The amount of gas produced usually depends on individual factors and diet. Some individuals produce more gas than others. Factors like irritable bowel syndrome, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), bacterial overgrowths in the intestines, stomach cancer, and celiac disease can lead to excess gas formation.

6.

How Serious Can Be Gas Symptoms?

Gas can be extremely uncomfortable and cause embarrassment to individuals. Symptoms of gas, along with severe pain and discomfort, can be indications of more serious underlying conditions. Persistent gas pain can interfere with the normal ability to function well daily.

7.

How Can Gas Pain Be Relieved?

Natural home remedies, over-the-counter medications, yoga poses, certain body positions and exercises, and drinking warm water can help relieve gas sooner.

8.

How Long Does Pain Due to Gas Last?

Usually, gas gets relieved within a few hours. Trapped gas causes great discomfort, and natural remedies aid in relieving gas pain faster. Specific body positions and over-the-counter medications can help relieve gas sooner.

9.

What Foods Help Relieve Gas?

Foods like lemon, ginger, yogurt, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, fennel seeds, and bananas help in relieving gas and its associated pain.

10.

What Is the Best Position to Sleep to Relieve Gas?

Lying on the side with the knees bent is the best position that helps in relieving trapped gas. If this does not work in a few minutes, drawing the knees closer to the chest and trying to alternate between bending and straightening the legs also help reliev gas pain providing better relief.

11.

Does Hot Water Help Relieve Gas?

Drinking hot water aids digestion and helps in relieving gas immediately. When water is consumed, the body uses less energy to break down food, and this helps in improving digestion and reducing gas trapping.

12.

What Are the Steps to Stay Gas Free?

Making lifestyle changes help in staying gas-free. Taking a fiber-rich diet and avoiding foods that have a tendency to produce more gas, eating small portions of food, quitting smoking, exercising, eating slowly, and chewing food thoroughly reduces gas trapping. Avoiding chewing gums can also helps to stay gas free.
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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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