How is gas in the digestive tract treated?

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Experience has shown that the most common ways of reducing the discomfort caused by gas are changing diet, taking medicines, and reducing the amount of air swallowed. Some of these steps are explained below:

Diet: Health professionals may tell people to eat fewer foods that cause gas. For some people, this may mean cutting out healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and milk products.

Health professionals may also suggest limiting high-fat foods to reduce bloating and discomfort. Less fat in the diet helps the stomach empty faster, allowing gases to move into the small intestine.

Unfortunately, the amount of gas caused by certain foods varies from person to person. Effective dietary changes depend on learning through trial and error how much of the offending foods one can handle.

Nonprescription Medicines: Digestive enzymes, available as over-the-counter supplements, help digest carbohydrates and may allow people to eat foods that normally cause gas.

The enzyme lactase, which aids with lactose digestion, is available in caplet and chewable tablet form without a prescription; Lactaid and Lactrase are two common brands. Lactose-reduced milk and other products, such as Lactaid and Dairy Ease, are also available at many grocery stores.

Beano, an over-the-counter digestive aid, contains the enzyme that the body lacks to digest the sugar in beans and many vegetables. This enzyme comes in liquid and tablet form. Five drops are added per serving, or one tablet is swallowed just before eating to break down the gas-producing sugars. Beano has no effect on gas caused by lactose or fiber.

Prescription Medicines: Doctors may prescribe medicines to help reduce the symptoms, especially for people with a disorder such as IBS. For more information about IBS, see the IBS fact sheet from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Reducing Swallowed Air: For those who have chronic belching, health professionals may suggest ways to reduce the amount of air swallowed. Two options are to avoid chewing gum and to avoid eating hard candy. Eating at a slow pace and checking with a dentist to make sure dentures fit properly should also help.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.