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How to Avoid and Decrease Problems with Gas

GENERAL INFORMATION:

How can I avoid or decrease problems with gas? Problems with gas may be caused by certain foods, swallowing too much air, and certain medical conditions. Some of these conditions include surgery of the intestines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a condition that prevents your body from digesting lactose (sugar in milk). You may be able to relieve gas, bloating, and discomfort by avoiding foods that cause gas. Changes in eating habits and physical activity may also help.

What guidelines should I follow? Not all common gas-forming foods affect everyone the same way. Try avoiding all gas-forming foods for a few weeks until you feel better. Next, try adding 1 gas-forming food back to your diet at a time. Continue to add 1 gas-forming food every few days until you find the foods that are causing problems for you. Avoid only the gas-forming foods that you know are causing problems for you. This will give you a bigger variety of foods to choose from so that you can eat a balanced diet. You may be able to tolerate small servings of some gas-forming foods.

Which foods are gas-forming?

  • Vegetables and legumes:

    • Dried beans, such as kidney, pinto, garbanzos, lima, and navy

    • Dried peas, such as split peas and lentils

    • Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower

    • Cucumbers and green peppers

    • Onions, leeks, and chives

    • Pickles and sauerkraut

    • Radishes, rutabaga, and turnips

  • Other foods:

    • Apples, pears, and peaches

    • Prunes and raisins

    • Large amounts of whole grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread or cereal

    • Beer, ales, and other drinks that contain alcohol

    • Carbonated drinks, such as soda

    • Mannitol and sorbitol are sugar alcohols that are added to food and sugar-free gums and candy

  • Dairy foods: Milk and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream can be gas-forming if you are lactose intolerant. Ask your caregiver if you have lactose intolerance and need to avoid dairy foods.

What other changes can I make?

  • Do not use straws or drink from bottles with narrow openings. Drink less soda, beer, and other carbonated drinks.

  • Eat and drink slowly. Do not chew gum or suck on hard candies.

  • Do not increase your fiber intake too quickly. Increase the amount of fiber you eat slowly by eating 1 new high-fiber food every 2 or 3 days. This gives your body more time to get used to the fiber without causing gas problems. Most people can get used to a high-fiber diet over a period of several weeks.

  • Ask your caregiver about lactase enzyme pills if you have lactose intolerance. These pills help break down lactose. You may also want to try lactose-free milk products. These can help you decrease the gas and bloating caused by lactose.

  • Physical activity may help you pass gas if you have problems with bloating.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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