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What is the Connection Between IBS and Gas?

Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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The primary connection between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and intestinal gas is that gas is one of the main symptoms of IBS. Sometimes an IBS sufferer will produce more gas than the average person, and he or she is often more sensitive to whatever gas is produced, due to inflammation and sporadic intestinal contractions. An irritable bowel can also cause a greater amount of trapped gas, which often leads to stomach cramps and bloating.

Although painful and often embarrassing, IBS and gas are both treatable. Avoiding foods which are known gas triggers is usually helpful, as is exercising regularly to help loosen any trapped gas so that it is easier to pass. When caused by swallowing air, gas can be reduced by avoiding chewing gum, sodas and other carbonated beverages, and talking or eating too quickly. Many times the same foods which promote gas also cause a flare-up of IBS symptoms, so both conditions may be treated with one remedy.

When IBS and gas pain cannot be avoided with dietary and lifestyle changes, an over the counter medication may be needed. Simethicone is the most common, and it works by combining multiple small gas bubbles in the intestines into large ones that are easier to pass. Contrary to what many believe, gas medications do not “get rid of” gas, but make it more able to exit the body through the mouth as a belch or the rectum as flatus.

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Constipation caused by IBS and gas may also go hand in hand. When stools stay in the colon longer than necessary, it can cause an increase in gas production until the waste materials are passed. Therefore, taking care of chronic constipation is also a good measure at preventing gas pain. This can be done by consuming adequate fiber, drinking plenty of water each day, and exercising regularly. It is should be noted that drastically increasing fiber intake can actually make gas worse, so fibrous foods should be added into the diet slowly.

There are also over the counter medications which may relieve the problems associated with IBS and gas. They go by many brand names, but they are all created using special enzymes which help the digestive system more efficiently break down sugars and other substances that are notorious for causing gas. When taken before each serving of food, these medications can effectively help prevent gas production and reduce the pain associated with excess intestinal gas.

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