Gas is produced every time your body digests food. As the food breaks down in the digestive tract, various gases are released, leaving the body through the mouth in the form of a belch or the anus in the form of flatulence.
Some people worry that large amounts of gas might be a sign of a medical problem. This is rarely the case, but some conditions do have excess flatulence as a potential symptom.
Causes of Gas
Most of the time, however, gas is nothing more than a byproduct of eating food. And it is true that some foods and liquids cause more gas than others. Breads, pasta and other carbohydrate-heavy foods are great gas-producers. So are high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. And carbonated beverages are also known for producing excess gas.
In some people, certain medications -- antibiotics, laxatives and chemotherapy drugs, for instance -- may contribute to gassiness, too. And other medical problems, including diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, exhibit excess gas as a symptom.
Most of the time, you can reduce gas simply by choosing foods that produce less gas or by eating smaller amounts of food in more frequent meals and snacks. It also helps to take in less air when you're eating or drinking. Avoiding the use of a straw, for instance, can help with this. Some light exercise after eating, like walking, can aid digestion and prevent the buildup of gas.
There are also over-the-counter medications specifically designed for reducing gas. And if gas is related to a more serious health condition, then you may want to speak to a doctor about other steps needed to treat the gas as well as the other symptoms of the condition.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; BreastCancer.org.
Small footstool changes angle while on toilet, improving bowel movements
Belly pain and black or bloody stools should not be ignored, doctor says
Avoid gum and hard candies
Feed the infant slowly
When your belly feels tight and full
Some typical causes
Cut down on foods that worsen symptoms
Study finds no increase in gastrointestinal problems in kids with the disorder
Doing so can prevent flares
But newer methods are replacing ones studied, experts say
Experts offer advice on how to get ready for a colonoscopy
Finding suggests new treatments for bowel diseases, study says
Menopausal women who take hormones face greater chance of GERD, study finds
It appears to act as 'sham feeding' that stimulates digestive nerves, U.K. study suggests
Avoid certain foods and activities
Study also found IBS 2 times more likely in people with depression
Brain can't switch off pain modulation mechanism, study suggests
Suggestions for taming symptoms
Which ones you may want to avoid
Armchair quarterbacks should snack wisely, experts say
Long-term and biologic treatments are emerging candidates, researchers say
High altitudes and gassy foods don't mix
Avoid gassy foods before flying
They treat themselves and effects last, study finds
Microscopic camera in capsule offers better look at small intestine
What that pink antacid is good for