Monday August 11 2014

Talking medicine : How to manage stomach gas

Activated charcoal is one of the commonly used

Activated charcoal is one of the commonly used treatments to manage stomach gas. File photo 

By Stella Nakakande

If there is anything that makes a person uncomfortable, it is the feeling of flatulence, or simply put, the need to pass out gas. For some people, it is a one off occurrence, while for others, it is something that happens every day.

Stomach gas originates from the intestines, and between 500 to 2000 mililitres of gas is produced daily by every individual at various intervals.
This gas results from swallowing air, digestion, eating high fibre foods (the bacteria do a lot more work breaking them down) and from by-products of intestinal bacteria.

However, passing out gas that is smelly and loud, rumblings in the lower abdomen, as well as abdominal discomfort could be a sign that the flatulence is becoming excessive. This can be attributed to the body’s inability to digest products such as milk (as a result of lactose intolerance), taking drugs used to treat constipation classified as laxatives, irritable bowel syndrome, consumption of foods such as beans, soya, peas, fruits such as apples and pears, and vegetables such as carrots, cabbages and eggplants.

To get rid of flatulence, one might simply have to reduce the consumption of the above foods, if they establish that it is the cause of their condition.
A drug called activated charcoal is also recommended to manage flatulence, but this should be prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist.
Alternatively, eno salts can also be used to manage stomach gas.

These salts contain key ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate and citric acids, which are antacids that work by neutralising excess acid and help, relieve symptoms and discomfort associated with stomach upsets.

You can take one sachet of either of the above ingredients, mixed in one glass of water, with a person consuming not more than two glassed per day. This can be done for a maximum of 14 days.
Drinking a glass of warm water, before and after meals is recommended, although this practice is not conventional medicine.

You can also use ginger to make tea, as this can stimulate the digestion process.
It also makes it easier for food to pass through the digestion process, and avoid eventual fermentation, which is usually associated with gas.

The writer is a pharmacist