Nov. 13, 2009 Passing gas -- flatulence -- is normal and happens to everyone. But for some people, excessive gas and pain interfere with normal activities. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers tips to reduce gas.
Gas is often caused by what and how one eats and drinks. "One common cause is swallowed air," says G. Richard Locke, III, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. "Eating fast, drinking out of a bottle or drinking carbonated beverages can increase the amount of air you swallow and the gas you produce."
Another culprit is food that contains hard-to-digest substances. Beans and other high-fiber foods commonly cause gas. Fructose, found in fruits and some sweeteners, can have the same result, as can lactose, a milk sugar. Lactose intolerance is common in adults.
What to do about gas? Over-the-counter products that contain simethicone, charcoal or an enzyme that assists in breaking down beans and vegetables can help reduce gas. Experimenting with diet -- taking away certain foods and reintroducing them -- can help determine problem foods. Other tips include eating slowly, avoiding carbonated beverages and chewing gum, and not sucking hard candies. Engaging in more physical activities such as walking can help with digestion, too.
When gas continues to be bothersome, Dr. Locke recommends talking with a doctor. "Even if the problem isn't serious, he or she may have advice about what you can do," he says.
"Be sure to let your doctor know if you're having gas or bloating along with other signs and symptoms, such as bleeding, fever, unexplained weight loss, stomach pains or changes in your bowel habits," adds Dr. Locke. These symptoms could indicate an underlying problem that requires treatment.
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