What Are the Most Common Causes of Gas Pain?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2018
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One of the most common causes of gas pain is excess air in the body’s digestive tract. This air can be caused by a person swallowing too much air or because the bacteria in the large intestine create too much gas. Other gas pains can be produced when a person eats a food to which he or she is intolerant. A person may also experience pain if he or she is taking certain medications. Some forms of intestinal disorders as well as constipation and laxatives can also contribute to gas pain.

Many people experience gas pain after eating beans or peas, but there are other foods that can cause excess gas and pain. Foods high in fiber, for example, broccoli and apples, have the potential to cause gas. The fiber in these foods cannot usually be broken down by the body. Instead, it passes largely untouched until it reaches the large intestine where bacteria break it down and create carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. These gases, produced in excess, can lead to gas pain.


Swallowing too much air can also cause a person to experience gas pain. Normally, a person swallows air when he eats or drinks, but if a person eats quickly, drinks through a straw, or has loose dentures he can swallow too much air. Chewing gum and smoking can also result in a person swallowing excess air. In addition, a nervous person tends to swallow more often than a relaxed one and may swallow more air than normal. If some of this excess air makes it to the large intestine, it can contribute to gas pain.

Food intolerances can also lead to gas pain. Many people lose the ability to properly digest lactose, or milk sugar, after age six. When they eat dairy products, the lactose can reach the large intestine unharmed by the digestive process before being broken down by bacteria. Some people also have an intolerance to gluten, a type of protein that is found in wheat products, and may experience gas and gas pain when they consume such products. Still others are sensitive to sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and maltitol, which may be found in various sugar-free foods.

Gas pain can also be a result of various gastrointestinal problems. For example, constipation can prevent the release of gas, which can lead to pain. Laxatives and some fiber supplements may also lead to excess gas and pain. Even antibiotics can cause gas pain because they may reduce or change the balance of intestinal flora. There are also certain conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, that may cause excess gas and pain.



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