Does your stomach feel “gassy” or bloated? It’s a very uncomfortable experience, and walking around with a big belly further adds insult (and inches) to injury. But what causes bloatedness, and how can you prevent it? Understanding more about it can help you take steps to avoid it, and relieve it when it does happen.
In a nutshell, bloatedness can be traced to gas in the intestines. The gas can come from food, or from air swallowed while we eat or drink (like if we eat too fast or sip through a straw). Habits like chewing gum, or talking a lot while eating can also make the problem worse.
What food can cause gas?
Beans are a common culprit, but so are cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, potatoes and corn. Some artificial sweeteners (like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol) can also make you feel bloated, so check the labels of low-calorie or low-fat food.
If you are lactose intolerant, you may experience gassiness if you take in dairy or food that contains milk (that includes baked goods and even cream soups).
And carbonated beverages, such as sodas or even some brands of bottled water, can leave you feeling very bloated and uncomfortable.
How to deal with gasiness
If you are feeling very uncomfortable, you may experience some relief by applying a heating pad or hot water bottle on your stomach. Exercise can also help push out the gas from the intestines. If that doesn’t work, lie down in a position that pushes against the organ: on your left side, knees against your chest, or on your stomach with knees folded into your chest.
There are also over-the-counter medications, and specialized medicines (like Beano). However, as with all other medications, you should at least speak to your doctor and get his medical opinion. This is particularly important if you are pregnant, have any pre existing health conditions, or are currently taking maintenance medication.
When to call the doctor
Bloatedness and gasiness can be a symptom of a bigger and more serious problem, especially if you notice that your abdomen has grown significantly, and is painful to touch. Also watch out for any bloatedness that seems to be persistent or progressive. See a doctor as soon as you can.
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