Intestinal Gas Treatment
Intestinal gas treatment can include dietary changes, medications, and reducing the amount of air you swallow. Eating too fast and chewing gum can cause you to swallow more air than you think. Some of the medications used for intestinal gas treatment include over-the-counter antacids and digestive enzymes, or in some cases, prescription drugs.
Experience has shown that the most common ways to reduce the discomfort of gas involve:
- Changing your diet
- Taking medicines
- Reducing the amount of air swallowed.
Doctors may tell people to eat fewer foods that cause gas. However, for some people this may mean cutting out healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and milk products.
Doctors may also suggest limiting high-fat foods to reduce bloating and discomfort. This helps the stomach empty faster, allowing gases to move into the small intestine.
Unfortunately, the amount of gas caused by certain foods varies from person to person. Effective dietary changes depend on learning through trial and error how much of the offending foods you can handle.
Many nonprescription, over-the-counter medicines are available to help reduce intestinal gas problems and symptoms. These medications include antacids with simethicone. Digestive enzymes, such as lactase supplements, actually help digest carbohydrates and may allow people to eat foods that normally cause gas.
Antacids, such as Mylanta II®, Maalox II®, and Di-Gel®, contain simethicone, a foaming agent that joins gas bubbles in the stomach so that gas is more easily belched away. However, these medicines have no effect on the intestinal gas itself. The dosage for these medicines varies depending on the form of the medication and the patient's age.
The enzyme lactase, which aids with lactose digestion, is available in caplet and chewable tablet form without a prescription (Lactaid® and Lactrase®). Chewing lactase tablets just before eating helps digest foods that contain lactose. Also, lactose-reduced milk and other products (Lactaid® and Dairy Ease®, for example) are available at many grocery stores.
Beano®, an over-the-counter digestive aid, contains the sugar-digesting enzyme that the body lacks to digest the sugar in beans and many vegetables. The enzyme comes in liquid and tablet form. Five drops are added per food serving or 1 tablet is swallowed just before eating to break down the gas-producing sugars. Beano® has no effect on gas caused by lactose or fiber.