We all produce gas in our bodies - it’s a natural byproduct of food digestion but some of us seem to produce more than others. And, when this gas gets stuck in your bowels and finds it difficult to escape it causes trapped wind, which can lead to bloating and abdominal pain.
Trapped wind affects many people - both with and without inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For some people it just happens occasionally if they have over-indulged but for others it is a daily occurrence which can affect quality of life. Many people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis report feeling gassy or bloated regularly. It isn’t known exactly why this is and could be down to a number of reasons:
Be more aware when you are eating. This means turning off the TV and concentrating on your food. This will help you to eat more slowly and eat less. You should also make sure you chew it properly - it’s recommended to chew each mouthful up to 30 times - and keep your mouth closed. You could also try having 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 bigger ones. Avoid any foods which you are aware cause you more gas. If you aren’t sure then try keeping a diary of what you are getting and how gassy you are in the hours after. However, you should remember that it is important to get a balanced diet.
Stop taking in excess air
Chewing gum and eating with your mouth open can both contribute to trapped wind as you tend to swallow more air - as can drinking fizzy drinks. Being stressed can also make you gulp down extra air so practise slow breathing when you feel stressed. Mindfulness may also help with this.
Some people with IBS report using probiotics can help to relieve gas and bloating. An increasing number of studies are being carried out into this area, however more research is still needed. You can learn more about probiotics and IBD here.
Taking some exercise - even just walking around while at work - can help the transit of gas through your digestive system.
Try lying down on your left hand side and massaging your abdomen to help the gas move through your intestines. If you can’t lie down (for example if you are at work) then try massaging your tummy from right to left.
Some people report that drinking peppermint tea or using peppermint oil helps to relieve trapped wind. However, don’t use these if you have heartburn or acid reflux as peppermint can make it worse. You should also check with your doctor before taking peppermint oil if you take cyclosporine.
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