Normally most of us belch (infants belch more because of swallowing air while being breast fed) and pass gas through the anus (flatus) especially early in the morning.
The amount of gas passed will depend on-
- Social status of a person.
- Upbringing since childhood.
- Vegetarians eating more pulses and rice pass more gas.
- Habits of smoking and drinking (soft drinks and alcohol).
There are a number of ill-understood factors.
Belching becomes a nuisance when it is continuous (aerophagy) and no medicines will help. Often it starts because the patient thinks that there is gas. Initial discomfort which started off the belching should be properly elicited from the patient who might give a clue to the underlying disease.
Reasons For Excessive Gas And Belching
- ‘Overeating’ is the commonest cause for gas in digestive tract. People who have too much consumption of drinks which cause gas e.g. aerated drinks like coke. Drinking too much of tea and coffee is harmful (more than four cups a day).
- Smokers are more prone to complaints of gas in digestive tracts as they swallow air with smoke.
- Chewing gums also increases this symptom.
- Small amount of gas is usually absorbed in the blood but excessive of it results in gas in digestive tract.
- Belching is seen as an act where an excess air is removed, but in reality double the amount of air goes in.
Causes Of Flatulence
- If bowels are not completely evacuated then these results in excessive flatulence. Often the gas smells foul. These patients have a satisfactory bowel movement once or twice daily.
- All patients who have excessive belching can have excessive flatus.
- Irritable bowel syndrome is commonly responsible for excessive flatus.
- Disaccharide deficiency, if present, can increase gases when such a patient takes milk. Milk should be stopped completely for few weeks and later given in small quantity at a time, preferably by adding tea leaves.
- Drugs e.g. antibiotics are the common cause of gas. These drugs produce gases due to change in normal intestinal flora. Patients on antibiotics should be told about this effect.
- A gas never causes a severe pain anywhere, especially in the tummy. The only exception is persons having ‘irritable colon’ (affecting 10 to 20% or more of normal population). Such people enjoy a good appetite and health, have normal weight or are overweight, but their bowel habits are very irregular. They may have to go to the toilet 3 to 4 times especially in the mornings, before and after the breakfast, without getting any satisfaction.
Home Remedies For Excessive Stomach And Intestinal Gas
- Stop smoking. Reduce the consumption of aerated drinks and tea. Stop milk if it increases the symptoms of abdomen gas.
- Reduce the amount of food. Eat little less than the appetite demands (and not more).
- Do not drink water immediately after food but after an interval of 1/2 to 1hour. Eating dry food is a good habit. Water should only be sipped with food, if at all.
- Eat slowly. If you hurry, you will swallow more air.
- Do regular exercise or yoga.
- Even if you belch do not do it with the mouth fully open.
- Avoid tomatoes, onions, peas, beans and pulses in excess quantity.
- All pure enzyme preparations are not useful. In fact all pills (like B complex) taken by the patient can be omitted. The only drug which can reduce intestine gas symptomatically is charcoal. These should be given in large doses. They have no side effects, even when given for prolonged periods.