Experience has shown that the most common ways to reduce the discomfort of gas are changing diet, taking medicines, and reducing the amount of air swallowed.
Health professionals may tell people to eat fewer foods that cause gas. However, 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.
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. Taking lactase supplements just before eating helps digest foods that contain lactose. Also, lactose-reduced milk and other products, such as Lactaid and Dairy Ease, are available at many grocery stores.
Beano, an over-the-counter digestive aid, contains the sugar-digesting enzyme that the body lacks to digest the sugar in beans and many vegetables. The 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.
Doctors may prescribe medicines to help reduce symptoms, especially for people with a disorder such as IBS.
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.
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