Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
If your gas pains are caused by another health problem, treating the underlying condition may offer relief. Otherwise, bothersome gas is generally treated with dietary measures, lifestyle modifications or over-the-counter medications. Although the solution isn't the same for everyone, with a little trial and error, most people are able to find some relief.
The following dietary changes may help reduce the amount of gas your body produces or help gas move more quickly through your system:
- Try to identify and avoid the foods that affect you the most. Foods that cause gas problems for many people include beans, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, pears, apples, peaches, prunes, sugar-free candies and chewing gum, whole-wheat bread, bran cereals or muffins, milk, cream, ice cream, ice milk, and beer, sodas and other carbonated beverages.
- Try cutting back on fried and fatty foods. Often, bloating results from eating fatty foods. Fat delays stomach emptying and can increase the sensation of fullness.
- Temporarily cut back on high-fiber foods. Add them back gradually over weeks. If you take a fiber supplement, try cutting back on the amount you take and build up your intake gradually. If your symptoms persist, you might try a different fiber supplement. Be sure to take fiber supplements with at least 8 ounces of water and drink plenty of liquids throughout each day.
- Reduce your use of dairy products. Try using low-lactose dairy foods, such as yogurt, instead of milk. Or try using products that help digest lactose, such as Lactaid or Dairy Ease. Consuming small amounts of milk products at one time or consuming them with other foods also may make them easier to digest. In some cases, however, you may need to eliminate dairy foods completely.
Some products may help, but they aren't always effective. Consider trying:
- Beano. Add Beano to beans and vegetables to help reduce the amount of gas they produce. For Beano to be effective, you need to take it with your first bite of food. It works best when there's only a little gas in your intestines.
- Lactase supplements. Supplements of the enzyme lactase (Lactaid, Dairy Ease), which helps you digest lactose, may help if you are lactose intolerant. You might also try dairy products that are lactose-free or have reduced lactose. They're available at most grocery stores.
- Simethicone. Over-the-counter products that contain simethicone (Gas-X, Gelusil, Mylanta, Mylicon) help break up the bubbles in gas. Although these products are widely used, they haven't been proven effective for gas and gas pain.
- Activated charcoal. Charcoal tablets (CharcoCaps, Charcoal Plus, others) also may help. You take them before and after a meal. They're available in natural food stores and many drugstores.
- Gas in the digestive tract. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas. Accessed March 4, 2011.
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- Gas-related complaints. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec02/ch008/ch008d.html . Accessed March 4, 2011.
- Abraczinskas D, et al. Intestinal gas and bloating. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 4, 2011.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. March 15, 2011.