IBS can cause pain in the abdomen, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating—all uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms. However, none of these symptoms is as embarrassing as the gas that may accompany this chronic illness.
Some IBS treatments can make your gas worse. Don’t worry—there are steps you can take to lessen your embarrassing gassiness and feel more comfortable around others.
Medications that you can purchase at the drugstore for gas include ingredients like simethicone, alpha-galactosidase, and charcoal. These can help relieve minor attacks of gas, and may be of some use. These compounds have minimal side effects and they are inexpensive, so it’s worth a try to see if one of these medications gives you any relief.
Change Your Diet
Regardless of what may be causing your IBS, gas is often worsened by eating certain foods. Try keeping a food journal and note which symptoms you experience after every meal. In this way, you may be able to identify which foods give you gas.
Certain foods are known to cause gas. The biggest culprit is any food that is high in dietary fiber. This includes beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables—especially when raw. The double-edged sword is that fiber can also help relieve constipation.
If you’re thinking of increasing your fiber intake to ease constipation, consider taking a supplement. Supplemental fiber usually causes less gas than getting fiber through your diet. Be sure to speak with your doctor about it first and take your supplement with plenty of water.
Other, lesser-known offenders include:
- lactose (found in dairy products)
- gluten (found in wheat- and barley-based products)
- sweeteners like fructose or sorbitol
- carbonated beverages
Not all of these foods may affect you. However, sweeteners can even cause gas in people without IBS. Eating too quickly and drinking carbonated beverages cause you to take extra air into your digestive tract, and are more likely to cause the symptom.
Always consult with your doctor before trying any kind of supplement or alternative medicine. Peppermint is an herb that has long been used to combat digestive problems. Try sipping a cup of peppermint tea when gas is bothering you, but be aware that this may also cause heartburn.
Sometimes stress makes the symptoms of IBS worse and may even be one cause of the disorder. Any treatment reduces your stress may help reduce your symptoms. Try yoga, meditation, acupuncture, or even hypnosis with the help of trained professionals.
Bacteria that live in your gut and help you digest food are called probiotics. A lack of these little bugs in your digestive tract may actually be part of the cause of your IBS. You can get a healthy dose of probiotics in yogurt with live and active cultures, which may help reduce gas. If eating yogurt is ineffective, talk to your doctor about a probiotic supplement and how much you should be taking in each day.