Many people have experienced abdominal discomfort at some point in their lives, and a common culprit can be air in the digestive tract.
“When air gets into the GI tract, it can cause burping, a full sensation in the stomach or bloating—or excessive flatulence,” says Dr. Dzifaa K. Lotsu, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “These common occurrences can cause discomfort, but there are ways these symptoms can be avoided.”
Dr. Lotsu offers some helpful tips:
- To avoid burping or excessive belching, reduce the amount of air swallowed by slowing down when you’re eating or drinking. Also, chew food completely. Another tip includes drinking fewer carbonated beverages and avoiding drinking from straws, as both can trigger gas. Chewing gum, eating hard candy, having excessive swallowing and forced belching can also be a reason for stomach issues. If you wear dentures, make sure they fit well, as poorly fitting dentures can cause belching.
- Abdominal bloating, or a full sensation in the stomach, may be due to intestinal sensitivity or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Bloating can occur when certain fermentable carbohydrates are not absorbed by the body very well.To relieve this discomfort, avoid common triggers like broccoli, baked beans, cabbage, carbonated drinks, cauliflower, chewing gum and hard candy. People with certain food sensitivities or intolerances may also want to avoid dairy, or lactose, and high fructose corn syrup.
- Abdominal inflation is when a substance such as gas or fluid accumulates in the stomach, causing it to expand, which can result in discomfort. This can be the result of weak abdominal muscles or swallowing air. For most people, it’s better in the morning and gets worse throughout the day.It can be relieved by maintaining a stable posture, going for a walk, exercising and staying away from foods that trigger gas. To prevent inflation, tighten your abdominal muscles throughout the day by pulling in your stomach several times, doing sit ups or wearing an abdominal support garment.
“Next time you’re experiencing discomfort in your digestive tract, consider what you are eating,” says Dr. Lotsu. “Try tracking your eating habits and symptoms to help identify the foods that trigger your symptoms. Avoiding these foods or eating less of them can decrease abdominal discomfort and help you avoid unwanted gas. If dietary changes don’t help or your symptoms are severe, see a doctor.”