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The first thing to do is to avoid the foods you know can cause gas. The exact list differs from person to person, but suspect foods include whole-grain bread and flour, bread, whole grain crackers and even pizza crust.

You Don't Have to Suffer Abdominal Pressure Caused by Gas

What is the best definition of bloating? The best way to define bloating is in terms of personal comfort. Bloating is feeling of tension and fullness in the abdomen sufficient to cause discomfort. Bloating is usually accompanied by excessive flatulence, 20 or more times a day.

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The fundamental cause of bloating is gas that can't be passed. Everyone gets excessive at one time or another. It is a natural byproduct of eating.

A little more than a tablespoon (17 ml) of gas goes down into the lower digestive tract with every sip of liquid and every bite of food. Through the course of a day, this swallowed air builds up to a volume up to half a gallon (2 liters), every single day. If the gas cannot be released, the result is the uncomfortable sensation of bloating as gas presses against the walls of the abdomen.

Just how uncomfortable the sensation of bloating is depends in no small measure on social considerations. Bloating is less uncomfortable when a person is alone than when, for instance, meeting the in-laws for the first time. Fear of breaking wind is a significant part of the unpleasantness of bloat.

Intestinal gas is over 99.99% odor-free, but tiny traces of gases that contain sulfur, such as methanethiol, hydrogen sulfide, and dimethyl sulfide, are enough to cause intense odor. These gases are derived from foods that contain the amino acids cysteine or methionine, especially beans, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

Another factor in the discomfort caused by bloating is intestinal inflammation. Swelling and inflammation can keep gas locked in, or cause a large volume to be released loudly, all at once. The gas released from carbonated beverages can build up to cause a sudden loud fart, as can the gas resulting from bacterial action on dairy foods.

For about 1 in 3 people in North America and Europe, and up to 9 in 10 people in other parts of the world, the lack of an enzyme called lactase is a significant factor in bloating and flatulence. Lactase is needed for the digestion of the lactose sugar in dairy products. In people who are lactase-deficient, even a small amount of milk, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream can cause bloating and flatulence.

Abdominal bloating is usually not something you would see a doctor about, but there are times it is a significant symptom. Steady and severe pain in the upper abdomen, or on the left side of the abdomen, along with bloating can be a sign of ischemic bowel disease or bowel obstruction. Bloating is sometimes the only early symptom of ovarian cancer in women.

Bloating with alternating diarrhea and constipation is a sign of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and bloating can be a side effect of medications ranging from antidepressants to blood thinners.

What can you do about bloating? Over-the-counter products made with simethicone, such as Di-Gel, Extra Strength Gas-X, and Mylanta II, don't stop production of gas. They just cause it to be released in smaller, less noticeable amounts.

In much of the world, the most popular remedy is the familiar pink over the counter liquid for relief of gas, belching, burping, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea, Pepto-Bismol.

The chemical that makes Pepto-Bismol pink, bismuth subsalicylate, controls odor, although it can't stop noisy farting. And you can't take Pepto-Bismol ever day, since the bismuth in the product can build up to toxic levels. An alternative to Pepto-Bismol is activated charcoal. Like Pepto-Bismol, activated charcoal controls odor, but doesn't reduce gas. Stopping the production of gas usually requires changes in diet.

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