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Get relief from excessive gas and bloating

Last Modified: June 22, 2023

Family Medicine


Gas and bloating can be uncomfortable and embarrassing problems. All people pass gas, on average 6 to 20 times a day, and it’s typically harmless. But some people produce more gas than others, in some cases even to a point of causing distress. In this post, we’ll explore strategies, such as diet changes and medication, that can help alleviate some of the discomfort that accompanies gas and bloating.

What causes abdominal fullness or bloating?

Sensations of abdominal fullness or bloating occur when excess gas builds up in the digestive tract. This is caused by many factors, including:

  • Swallowed air. If an individual doesn’t burp up swallowed air, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as gas (flatus). Excessive air swallowing may cause hiccups.
  • Gas-producing foods and drinks. Beans, broccoli, carbonated drinks and beer are examples of foods that can generate excess gas. The amount of gas and the odor that different foods cause varies from person to person.
  • Lactose intolerance. A person who can't easily digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products, can have both gas and bloating as well as other symptoms.
  • Constipation can cause bloating, but generally does not increase gas. You can read about prevention and ways to get relief from constipation here.
  • Medicines or nutritional supplements. Both prescription and nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements, can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
  • Changing hormone levels. Many people feel bloated right before their periods because their bodies retain fluid.
  • Pregnancy

Occasionally, excess gas and bloating may be caused by a more serious medical problem, such as a bowel obstruction, liver problems, gallbladder disease or cancer.

Alleviating gas and bloating

Treatment depends on what’s causing the problem. Call your doctor for a checkup if you have abdominal fullness or bloating that has not gotten better or gone away with home treatment. You can also …

  • Keep a food diary if you think a food gives you gas. Write down what you eat or drink, when you got gas and any other symptoms. This can help you identify patterns and correlations between foods you eat or fluids you drink and gas or bloating discomfort.
    Examples of foods that cause gas include:
    • Fried and fatty foods
    • Peas, lentils, and beans
    • Vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, radishes, and raw potatoes
    • Fruits such as apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, prunes, and raw apples
    • Wheat and wheat bran
    • Carbonated drinks, fruit drinks, beer, and red wine
    • Packaged foods that contain lactose, such as breads, cereal, and salad dressing
    • Sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Try soaking beans in water overnight. Drain the soaking water, and cook the soaked beans in new water. This may help decrease gas and bloating.
  • If you have problems with lactose, avoid dairy products such as milk and cheese.
  • Try not to swallow air. Don’t drink through a straw, gulp your food or chew gum.
  • Take an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Food enzymes, such as Beano® can be added to gas-producing foods to prevent gas.
  • Over-the-counter antacids can relieve bloating by making you burp. Be careful when taking, as many of these medicines have aspirin in them. Read the label to make sure that you aren’t taking more than the recommended dose. Too much aspirin can be harmful.
  • Activated charcoal tablets may decrease odor from gas you pass.
  • If you have problems with lactose, you can take medicines such as Lactaid® with dairy products to prevent gas and bloating.
  • Exercise regularly.

When to seek medical attention

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care, particularly if you have gas and signs of a heart attack, including:

  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Sweating.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pain that spreads from the chest to the neck, jaw, or one or both shoulders or arms.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • A fast or uneven pulse.

After calling 911, chew 1 adult-strength aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

You should also call your doctor or seek medical care if you:

  • Have severe stomach pai
  • Have trouble swallowing
  • Have blood in your stool
  • Do not get better as expected from taking a medication or other treatment

If you need assistance finding a medical provider, call our Access Center for assistance at (877) PPG-TODAY or (877) 774-8632.












Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.


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