Most gas results from swallowed air and gas produced in the colon by normal bacteria. Belching (gas passed from the mouth) and flatulence (gas passed from the rectum) are common complaints physicians hear from South Asian patients. This may be due to a combination of diet, lifestyle and a culturally-heightened awareness about digestive function. It has actually been shown that most individuals who complain of gas do not produce excess gas, but instead have an increased awareness of normal amounts of gas. Stomach cramping and distention are also common symptoms associated with gas.
Common Causes of Increased Belching
Most belching is due to increased swallowed air. Causes include:
- Eating rapidly
- Eating with an open mouth
- Gulping liquids
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Foods that are also associated with acid reflux (such as peppermint, chocolate, caffeine, spicy and fatty foods).
Common Causes of Increased Flatulence
Flatulence is the product of specific foods that are broken down by normal bacteria that lives in the colon. Most of these foods are in the form of carbohydrates. Common gas producing foods in the South Asian diet include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Beans, such as those found in daal and chole
- Dairy products (lactose)
Eating smaller meals, eating more slowly and avoiding some of the foods listed above can help treat gas. It is useful to keep a food diary and then gradually eliminate one food at a time to find the one that is the culprit. You can start by restricting dairy products first and then gradually eliminate one carbohydrate at a time (vegetables, beans, etc.). The following medications may also help relieve symptoms:
- Beano® (an over-the-counter product that uses an natural enzyme to relieve gas caused by certain carbohydrates found in vegetables or beans)
- Simethicone (an over-the-counter substance found in products including Gas-X® and Mylanta® Gas that can help dissolve gas bubbles and provide relief)
The symptoms listed below may indicate a more serious medical condition than normal gas. If you experience any of theses, speak with your personal physician immediately.
- Bloody stools
- Unexpected weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Last Reviewed: 2012