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What Causes Painful Gas and How To Ease Discomfort

What Causes Painful Gas and How To Ease Discomfort

There are times when you feel the pain and discomfort, knowing that it’s caused by gas. But then you might find yourself asking, what causes painful gas? What can I do to prevent it? Can I perform remedies at home to manage it?

Read on to learn more about what causes painful gas and how to ease the discomfort.

Is It Normal to Have Gas in the Digestive Tract?

Before we look into what causes painful gas, it’s important to note that your digestive system really has gas – it’s normal. Gas enters your digestive tract in two ways:

  • You swallow air. This happens when you talk or laugh. At times, it also happens when you eat.
  • The bacteria in the colon break down food and then release gas.

The “gas” contains odorless vapor, like oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. Sometimes, methane is included. Typically, a person produces 1 to 4 pints of gas daily.

But sometimes, we get excessive gas in our digestive tract. This happens when we:

  • Eat candies and suck on lollipops.
  • Consume carbohydrates that enzymes in the small intestine cannot digest. Once in the large intestine, these carbohydrates will be broken down into hydrogen and carbon dioxide gas. Examples of these foods are beans, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
  • Eat “gassy” foods, such as carbonated drinks and beer.
  • Experience anxiety. Reports say that anxious people are more likely to swallow air.
  • Have poor-fitting dentures.
  • Have a post-nasal “drip.” This is the secretion from the nose that runs down to the throat.

Finally, some conditions also predispose a person to develop excessive gas. One such condition is lactose intolerance. This is when a person lacks lactase – an enzyme that breaks down lactose or milk sugars.

When a lactose-intolerant person drinks milk or eats dairy products, they acquire too much gas in their digestive tract.

What Causes Painful Gas?

Gas is not supposedly painful. You get rid of the gas by burping or flatulence (farting). There are times when the bacteria in the colon produce sulfur gas. This sulfur produces an unpleasant odor.

If you don’t eliminate or pass gas, it becomes trapped. This causes painful gas.

What Are the Symptoms of Painful Gas?

After determining what causes painful gas, it’s important to identify the signs and symptoms. They are:

  • Belching or burping. If you belch or burp after drinking or eating, that’s normal. However, burping quite a lot means you might be swallowing too much air.
  • Passing gas. Note that it’s normal to pass gas 13 to 21 times daily. If you’re doing more than that, then you may have excessive gas.
  • Bloating. When your belly feels “full” or “swollen,” you might be suffering from bloating. You often experience this after eating.
  • Abdominal pain or “painful gas”. No matter what causes painful gas, it’s always uncomfortable. Hence, eliminating trapped gas is a priority.

What Are the Remedies for Painful Gas?

The first step to remedy the signs and symptoms is to identify what causes painful gas. For instance, you’ve been drinking a lot of carbonated drinks lately. Why not reduce the intake to relieve the symptoms? Other than this, you can also do the following:

Perform Dietary Changes

If what causes painful gas is your diet, then it’s best to avoid the following:

  • High-fiber foods that cause gas. These include apples, whole wheat bran, peaches, pears, and onions.
  • Fried and fatty foods. Fatty or fried foods prevent gas from being eliminated in the digestive tract.
  • Milk and dairy products. Avoid them, especially if you have lactose intolerance.
  • Soft drinks and beer. They produce a lot of gas in the digestive system.

Lastly, don’t forget to drink plenty of water since it prevents constipation. When you have a bowel movement, you will also pass gas.

Relieve the Painful Gas Using Natural Ways

There are easy ways to soothe painful gas. The first natural thing to do is to NOT suppress the passing of gas. When you want to burp or pass gas through the rectum, simply go to the bathroom or a private place.

If you are at home, it will also help to lie on your tummy. This position “pushes” the gas out of the system.

Another way is to move your body. Try to walk short distances. Walking relaxes the muscles in the digestive tract. This encourages the release of gas.

If you want, you can also use heating pads. The heat also helps relax the digestive muscles. Just be careful and protect your skin from being burnt.

Finally, you can use ginger. Prepare 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger and take it with 1 teaspoon of lime or lemon juice. Ginger is a natural carminative agent. Carminative agents relieve gas in the digestive tract.

Take Over-The-Counter Medications

To soothe painful gas, you may also take over-the-counter medications. One example of an OTC drug is Simethicone. Simethicone breaks the bubble in the gas and makes it easier for the gas to escape.

If you have lactose intolerance, you may also want to talk to your doctor about taking a lactase supplement. It helps you digest the milk sugars and therefore reduce the amount of gas in your system.

Key Takeaways on What Causes Painful Gas

Gas in the digestive system is natural. What causes painful gas is when the gas is trapped. You can remedy this condition by making some changes to your diet. Additionally, you can naturally soothe the pain and take OTC medications.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 18
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel