IBS can cause pain in the abdomen, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. These are all uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms. None of these symptoms is as embarrassing as the gas that may accompany this chronic illness.
Some IBS treatments can even make your gas worse. 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 have minimal side effects and they are inexpensive. It’s worth trying to see if these medications give you any relief.
Regardless of what may be causing your IBS, eating certain foods often worsens gas. Try keeping a food journal and note which symptoms you experience after every meal. This may help you identify which foods give you gas.
Certain foods are known to cause gas. The biggest culprits are any foods that are high in dietary fiber. This includes beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. 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 first and take your supplement with plenty of water.
Other, lesser-known offenders may 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 that reduces your stress may help diminish 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 commensal organisms or normal microflora. A lack or abnormal collection of these little bugs in your digestive tract may actually be part of the cause of your IBS. Probiotics are bacteria and/or yeast that are consumed and believed to improve health. In the gut, these probiotics are believed to help restore the balance of “good” normal microflora. The American College of Gastroenterology now recommends eating food with probiotics to help reduce bloating and gas. You can get a healthy dose of probiotics in yogurt with live and active cultures. If eating yogurt is ineffective, talk to your doctor about a probiotic supplement and how much you should be taking in each day.