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Trapped gas can feel like a stabbing pain in your chest or abdomen. The pain can be sharp enough to send you to the emergency room, thinking it’s a heart attack, or appendicitis, or your gallbladder.

Producing and passing gas is a normal part of your digestion. But when a bubble of gas gets stuck inside you, you want to relieve the pain as fast as possible. And if you have other symptoms, it’s a good idea to find out what’s causing the pain.

Read on to learn how to relieve trapped gas, what the causes might be, and tips for prevention.

Fast facts about trapped gas

Certain home remedies for relieving trapped gas work better for some people than others. You may have to experiment to see what works best and fastest for you. Most of the evidence behind these home remedies is anecdotal.

Here are some quick ways to expel trapped gas, either by burping or passing gas.

Move

Walk around. Movement may help you expel the gas.

Massage

Try gently massaging the painful spot.

Yoga poses

Specific yoga poses can help your body relax to aid the passing of gas. Here’s a pose to start with:

  1. Lie on your back and extend your legs straight up with your feet together.
  2. Bend your knees and put your arms around them.
  3. Pull your knees down to your chest.
  4. At the same time, pull your head up to your knees. You can also keep your head flat, if it’s more comfortable.
  5. Hold the pose for 20 seconds or more.

Liquids

Drink noncarbonated liquids. Warm water or herbal tea helps some people. Try peppermint, ginger, or chamomile tea.

Use prepared teabags, or make your own herbal tea by steeping ginger root, peppermint leaves, or dried chamomile.

A traditional Persian remedy advises mixing 10 grams each of ground cumin and fennel with 5 grams of ground anise, and steeping them in a cup of boiling water for 20 minutes.

Herbs

Natural kitchen remedies for gas include:

  • anise
  • caraway
  • coriander
  • fennel
  • turmeric

Mix one of these ground herbs or seeds into a glass of warm water and drink.

Bicarbonate of soda

Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in a glass of water and drink it.

Be careful not to use more than 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Too much baking soda taken when you have a full stomach could lead to a stomach rupture.

Apple cider vinegar

Dissolving 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drinking it is a traditional remedy for gas release.

Anecdotal evidence suggests this can be effective, but there’s no scientific evidence to support this claim. However, there aren’t any negative side effects to this method.

Many over-the-counter (OTC) remedies exist for gas relief. Again, the evidence for effectiveness may be anecdotal only. You’ll have to experiment to see what works for you.

Here are some products to try.

Enzyme preparations

Products for lactose intolerance may help if you have trouble digesting lactose. But these are usually taken as a preventive measure. These enzyme products include:

  • Lactaid
  • Digest Dairy Plus
  • Dairy Relief

You can find these products in most pharmacies or shop online: Lactaid, Digest Dairy Plus, Dairy Relief.

Alpha-galactosidase is a natural enzyme that helps prevent gas from legumes. There’s some evidence that it works to prevent gas and bloating. But again, it’s usually taken as a preventive measure.

Beano is a well-known version of this enzyme, available in tablet form.

You can find it at most pharmacies or online: Beano.

Adsorbents

Simethicone products have possible benefits in relieving gas, according to some studies. They work by breaking up bubbles in gas.

These products include:

  • Gas-X
  • Alka-Seltzer Anti-Gas
  • Mylanta Gas

Activated charcoal tablets, capsules, or powder may also help reduce gas. The charcoal is activated by heating it to make it more porous, which traps gas molecules in the spaces created. However, these products may have unwanted side effects, such as turning your tongue black.

These products include:

  • Activated Charcoal
  • CharcoCaps

You can find simethicone and activated charcoal products at most pharmacies or order online by clicking the links below:

Trapped gas symptoms usually come on suddenly. The pain can be sharp and stabbing. It can also be a general feeling of acute discomfort.

Your stomach may be bloated and you may have stomach cramps.

Pain from gas that collects on the left side of your colon can radiate up to your chest. You may think this is a heart attack.

Gas that collects on the right side of the colon can feel like it might be appendicitis or gallstones.

There are many causes of trapped gas bubbles. Most are related to the process of digestion. But some may result from physical conditions that need treatment.

Common causes of excess gasOther factors that may cause excess gasHealth conditions
digestionpersistent post-nasal dripirritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
food intolerancecertain medications, such as OTC cold medicationsCrohn’s disease
bacterial overgrowthfiber supplements that contain psylliumulcerative colitis
constipationartificial sugar substitutes, such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitolpeptic ulcers
lifestyle behaviors, such as chewing gum, overeating, and smokingstress
a previous surgery or pregnancy that altered your pelvic muscles

Digestion

Your digestion and gas production are affected by:

  • what you eat
  • how fast you eat
  • how much air you swallow when eating
  • food combinations

The bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your colon (large intestine) are responsible for breaking down any food that isn’t fully processed by your small intestine.

Some people may be slower at processing and clearing gas in their intestine. This may be because they lack the enzymes required.

Your colon processes carbohydrates like beans, bran, cabbage, and broccoli into hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases. For some people, this can cause an excess of gas that may become trapped.

Food intolerances

Some people do not have enough lactase, which is the enzyme required to digest some milk products. This is called lactose intolerance.

Others may not easily digest gluten, which is called a gluten intolerance.

Both these conditions may cause excess gas.

Bacterial overgrowth

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when bacteria that normally grows in other parts of the gut starts growing in the small intestine. This may cause more than normal intestinal gas.

Constipation

Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems in the United States. It’s defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week, and having stools that are hard and dry.

One common symptom of constipation is the inability to pass gas.

Lifestyle behaviors

Many habits can contribute to more gas production, especially behaviors that allow more air intake when you eat. Examples include:

Other factors that may cause excess gas

Other causes of excess gas include:

Health conditions that may cause excess gas

If your discomfort from gas is prolonged and if you have other symptoms, you may have a more serious digestive problem. Some possibilities include:

All of these conditions are treatable.

You can lower your risk of getting a painful trapped gas bubble by watching what and how you eat.

It may be useful to keep a food diary. This can help you keep track of the foods and circumstances that lead to a gas bubble. Then you can avoid those foods or behaviors that seem to give you a problem.

Try eliminating foods one by one, so that you can pinpoint possible problems.

Here are some basic tips to start with:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Drink liquids at room temperature, not too hot or too cold.
  • Avoid foods known to cause excess gas.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well.
  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
  • If you wear dentures, have your dentist check on whether they let in too much air when you eat.
  • Increase your physical activity.

Try some of the home remedies or OTC remedies for gas, and see what might work for you.

It’s a good idea to see your doctor, if you frequently have trapped gas bubbles, if they last a long time, or if you have any worrisome symptoms.

Other symptoms to watch for include:

Your doctor can diagnose other possible conditions. They may also advise you to take a probiotic or a prescription antibiotic.

It’s a good idea to discuss the remedies that you’re already trying, especially any herbal supplements.

Trapped gas can be acutely painful. It’s usually not serious, but may be a sign of a food intolerance or an underlying digestive problem.

Watching what you eat and taking some preventive measures can help.

Getting rapid relief may take some experimenting with different remedies to see what works for you.