Maybe you ate something you shouldn't have or there was something a little off about that meal you just had at a restaurant. Now you are stuck dealing with severe gas pains. Knowing what causes gas pains isn't going to help now, you just want to find relief fast! Luckily, there are some things that you can do to help to ease your discomfort and get on with your day.
1. Don't suppress!
Now is not the time to think about modesty. Go to a private place or find a toilet and just, as they say, "let it fly." As intestinal gas is passed, there is less in your system to be causing pain.
2. If possible, move your bowels.
If you are able to have a bowel movement, two things will happen simultaneously. You will speed up the movement of the muscles lining your large intestine, which will help to encourage the gas to make its way out of your system. A bowel movement also empties the rectum of any stored stool, freeing up the passage of the trapped intestinal gas.
3. Sip hot tea.
Peppermint, ginger and anise teas all have gas-reducing reputations. However, avoid anise if you are prone to chronic diarrhea, as it appears to have a mild laxative effect. On the same note, reach for the anise tea if you believe that constipation might be contributing to your gas pains. Keep these teas handy for use when needed.
4. Move your body.
Gentle exercise is a practical option. Walking helps to relax the muscles in your abdomen, with the effect of helping trapped gas to make its escape. If you have the space and the privacy, there are several yoga poses that have been associated with easing the passage of intestinal gas:
5. Use a heating pad.
Besides being very soothing psychologically, heat helps to relax the muscles in your gut and inhibits pain sensations. Just be sure to protect your skin from a burn with a layer of clothing. If you are prone to recurrent gas pain attacks, it might be wise to make sure that a heating pad is available to you even if you are at work. At home, a warm bath may provide similar soothing and relief.
6. Chew some fennel seeds.
Fennel seeds have a reputation for reducing intestinal gas. A safe amount appears to be approximately one teaspoon. (Note: There is mixed information regarding the safety of ingesting extra fennel when pregnant or breast-feeding, so if that applies to you it would be best to play it on the safe side and choose an alternative gas-relieving option.)
Some people, but not all, find they get gas relief from over-the-counter products, such as simethicone and activated charcoal. Of the two, simethicone is considered to be the better option. Activated charcoal may result in unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms, e.g. constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. If you decide to try activated charcoal, you may find that it turns your stool black, but this is not something to be concerned about. As with any over-the-counter product, check with your doctor prior to use. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid these products.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing may help to ease the pain, but only if this is something you practice on a regular basis. Since this type of breathing is so effective for stress reduction, I highly recommend that you become an expert! You can then use this breathing technique as needed for future gas attacks.
Essential Reading from Dr. Barbara Bolen:
Important note: What may seem like gas pains are not always gas pains. If your pain is severe and persistent, please contact your physician immediately.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.