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What Causes Gas Pain When Exercising?

By Linda Ray

Everyone passes gas, usually several times a day. This natural body function can be embarrassing and painful when you have excessive gas, especially when the gas builds up in your abdomen. Moving during exercise often loosens the painful pressure, but painful cramps from gas also can stifle your workouts.

Causes of Gas

Flatulence or burping is common when working out because you often gulp air, which then gets lodged in your abdomen. Gas usually occurs when carbohydrates are not completely digested. Healthy foods often consumed by fitness enthusiasts, especially fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, cause gas. Constipation, laxatives and artificial food additives also cause gas. The pain occurs when the gas builds up and you're not able to let it out.

Preventing Gas Pain

Trial and error with your diet may help you avoid gas cramps when you exercise. You may need to reduce the amount of food you consume prior to working out and eliminate foods that cause gas on your workout days. Drink water every 15 minutes as you're working out, especially if you eat a high fiber diet. Dairy products also can add to gas pains, so avoid milk or yogurt prior to working out.

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False Alarms and Gas

When you're working out and get a sharp stabbing pain in the upper left part of your abdomen, you may think you are having a heart attack. That's a common mistake and should be taken seriously even if it is just cramps from gas pain. If the pain is sudden and severe or if it lasts longer than a couple minutes, you should seek medical attention immediately. According to Dr. Donnica, if you think it's an emergency, you should treat it as such. Another common misdiagnosis is when the gas pain strikes on the right side of your abdominal region and you think you may be having an appendicitis attack. See a doctor if the pain is accompanied by a fever or nausea as well.

Gas Pain Relief

Gas pains eventually pass but may need a little assistance. Peppermint tea is an effective treatment for gas cramps. Peppermint oil contains an antispasmodic property that serves to smooth the muscles in your digestive tract and ease the pressure. You can try an over-the-counter gas relief product as well. If you're involved in an intense activity when the pain hits, switch to moderate exercise such as cycling for a few minutes until the pain passes.

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