It’s uncomfortable and it can be embarrassing. It may happen after you eat gas-forming foods, many of which are high in fiber, or you might experience bloating and gassiness (flatulence) after drinking carbonated sodas or during stressful periods when you’re more likely to swallow excess air. If the discomfort becomes painful, or if it happens frequently, see your doctor to rule out an underlying disorder. If you experience occasional mild gassiness, some home remedies may offer relief.
Chew every mouthful of food thoroughly before swallowing and take your time. Eating quickly increases the risk of swallowing air, which can lead to bloating and gas. In addition, toss away the straw, and drink from the glass to minimize the amount of air you swallow.
Reduce your dairy intake. If you’re lactose intolerant, consuming milk, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products can result in bloating, gas and diarrhea. If dairy is the culprit, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
Ease intestinal gas by eating papaya with your meal. This sweet fruit not only tastes good, it contains enzymes that assist in food digestion. Alternatively, papaya enzyme tablets are available over-the-counter from your local pharmacy.
Dissolve 1/2 tsp. of baking soda in a glass of water and drink to relieve gas pains. Baking soda neutralizes stomach acids and promotes belching. Do not use this home remedy, however, if you are on a low-sodium diet, and do not use baking soda more than once or twice a week without talking to your doctor.
Breathe deeply and slowly. During times of stress or anxiety, you’re more likely to swallow excess air. When you’re nervous, make a conscious effort to take 10 or more slow, deep breaths. Not only will deep breathing reduce accidental air swallowing, it may help you relax.
Seek relief with common herbs. The “PDR for Herbal Medicines” recommends fennel seeds, caraway seeds and chamomile as potentially helpful for easing abdominal bloating and gas. Add the seeds to salad dressings and soups and make an herbal tea from the seeds and from chamomile.
Reduce the serving size of gas-forming foods. Broccoli, cabbage, beans and whole fiber products, such as bran cereal, may produce gas. Fiber is an essential part of eating healthy however, so don’t cut it out of your diet. Eat small portions of fiber throughout the day, rather than a large serving at any one meal. Other potential gas-forming foods include onions, asparagus, corn, pears, apples and Brussels sprouts.
Smoking may also contribute to swallowing air and intestinal gas.
Dentures that do not fit well may increase the risk of swallowing excess air when eating.