What causes gas pain?
Gas pain can occur when you swallow air while you eat or drink and the gas is trapped in your system. Gas is also produced in the gut (mainly the large intestine) when bacteria digest carbohydrates. Certain health conditions or foods can make you more likely to get gassy, leading to gas pain and other symptoms.
The main causes of excess gas include:
- Excess swallowed air: This could be caused by smoking, chewing gum, eating or drinking quickly, or wearing loose dentures.
- Certain foods: High-fiber foods are necessary for your health, but too much can make you gassy. Common foods and drinks that cause gas pain include carbonated beverages, legumes (such as beans and lentils), fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Dietary supplements: Fiber (Metamucil or psyllium husk) or protein supplements can make you feel gassy or bloated.
- Sugar substitutes: Sugar substitutes (particularly sugar alcohols), such as xylitol, sorbitol, or mannitol, can cause pain.
- Medical conditions: Too much gas could be caused by medical conditions such as:
How is gas pain diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose gas pain based on the following:
- Medical history, including the severity of pain, onset, duration, and frequency. Your doctor may ask about your dietary habits, food allergies, and current medications, as well as changes in stool color, consistency, and frequency.
- Physical examination particularly the examination of the abdomen for bowel sounds, abdominal distension, tenderness, and the presence of any lump or mass in the abdomen. Your doctor may examine your skin and eyes to look for signs of jaundice (yellowing) or anemia (pallor).
- Tests may be required to confirm the underlying cause in some cases, especially severe or persistent gas pain associated with other bothering symptoms:
How do I get rid of painful gas?
Treatment for gas pain depends on the severity and underlying cause. When underlying disorders are present, they must be addressed. In the absence of any specific underlying health concerns, gas pain can be treated and prevented with dietary and lifestyle modifications.
- Consult a qualified nutritionist to create a diet that will help you maintain good health without causing gas pain.
- Limit foods that may cause gas pain, such as dairy, cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fiber-rich fruits.
- Avoid consuming spicy, fatty foods and carbonated beverages.
- Avoid sugar alcohols (such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol).
- Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.
- Ask your doctor about fiber supplements.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Engage in regular exercise
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly
- Avoid chewing gum
- Use straws to drink carbonated drinks
- If you wear dentures, make sure they fit properly
Medications may be prescribed to treat underlying conditions and provide symptomatic relief. Over-the-counter medications for gas pain include:
Should you go to the ER for gas pain?
Gas pain generally does not indicate any serious underlying condition. You must, however, contact your doctor if you notice the following:
- Blood in stools or black, tarry stools
- Inability to pass stools
- Change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Change in stool consistency
- Severe pain or tenderness in your abdomen
- Persistent vomiting
- Gas pain that does not go away despite home treatment
- Chest pain or pressure (may indicate a heart condition that needs urgent medical attention)
- Unexplained weight loss
Gas and gas pains. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/symptoms-causes/syc-20372709
Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes
Gas in the Digestive Tract. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/gas-in-the-digestive-tract
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