By Dr. Anand V Ghiya, Gastroenterology
Intestinal gas is basically referred to the condition wherein air is present in the digestive tract. It is usually never noticed until the person burps or passes it rectally i.e. flatulence. Intestinal gas is present in the entire digestive tract i.e. from the stomach to the rectum. This is a natural consequence of digestion and swallowing.
Although excessive levels of intestinal gas might indicate a digestive problem, it is normal for common people to burp and pass gas several times in a day. Given below are some ways through which intestinal gas can be addressed:
- Dietary Modifications:
- In case of indigestion of some specific sugars, such as lactose, fructose and sorbitol, the problematic sugar should be eliminated from your diet.
- Reducing intake of certain types of starchy fruits and vegetables that are digested poorly should help in reducing gas as well as flatulence. Examples include cabbage, beans, Brussels sprouts, lentils, onions, apricots, carrots and prunes. However, it should be taken into consideration that the list of foods that produce gas is quite long, and eliminating all of them without imposing severe diet restriction is quite difficult.
- Over-The-Counter Medications: An enzyme known as alpha-D-galactosidase can be used for treating excess gas. This enzyme is consumed either in the form of liquid or a tablet after meals. The enzyme is capable of breaking down some polysaccharides in vegetables that are generally difficult to digest. This allows them to be absorbed properly and thereby, preventing excess gas production. The commercial form of the enzyme has been proven effective in reducing excess intestinal gas.
In case excess intestinal gas is caused due to indigestion resulting from diseases in the intestinal lining, identification and treatment of that specific condition is required.
If emptying of the stomach or passage of food, liquid, and gas through the small intestine is hindered due to physical obstructions, correction of the obstruction using surgery is required. Medications that stimulate the activity of the stomach muscles as well as the small intestine are needed if the obstructions persist. Examples of such medicines are metoclopramide or erythromycin.