Gas, Bloating and Belching: Is it Normal?

August 30, 2016 Hyder Jamal, MD

is-gas-bloating-belching-normalThe short answer is, yes. In fact, statistics show that on average, we pass gas at least 15 times a day. That’s the equivalent of half a liter. “Passing gas is absolutely normal, but if you’re concerned about excessive gas release, then a good way to get it under control is to monitor how your body reacts to certain foods by keeping a food diary,” suggests Hyder Jamal, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist at St. Jude Medical Center. Some known culprits include foods such as beans, dairy products or wheat based products. Foods that are high in carbs, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, pears and onions are also known triggers. It’s good to keep in mind that each of us has a unique reaction to different foods, so while your brother may live off of cheese sandwiches and Mexican food, you may find that for you, the refried beans reap havoc on your stomach.

“Getting a handle on your gas triggers is all about paying attention to and listening to your body,” he says. For example, if you find that after having your morning latte you begin to feel a bit gassy, then you may be reacting to the lactose in the milk. This could be a sign of lactose intolerance, easily treated by eliminating lactose based foods from your diet. If you feel discomfort after eating toast or spaghetti bolognese, then you might have a gluten intolerance.

Swallowing air is also known to trigger gas. “As you chew your food, the compression between your teeth releases the bubbles of air that are trapped inside of it,” says Dr. Jamal. “If you don’t chew your food properly, then you are swallowing pockets of air that will eventually need to come out either as a belch or as flatulence.” Habits such as chewing gum, and drinking carbonated drinks such as soda’s, sparkling water or sparkling wines also cause us to swallow air, and should be avoided.

“There are a number of different over the counter medications that can also help manage the bloating and discomfort caused by gas,” he adds, “but if you’ve tried all of the above, and are still concerned that your gas problem is excessive, then it’s a good idea to see your health care provider.” Digestive disorders such as celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome, to name a few, could also potentially be responsible for your discomfort, so it’s best to make sure you rule those out. 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.



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