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Gas and Bloating

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What do I need to know about gas and bloating?

Gas is air that collects in your digestive system (stomach or intestines). Bloating is the tight, full feeling you get from too much gas.

Digestive Tract

What increases my risk for gas and bloating?

  • Vegetables, such as beans, cabbage, and broccoli
  • Starches, such as potatoes, corn, wheat, and pasta
  • Dairy products, or food intolerance (trouble digesting certain foods)
  • High-fiber cereals and breads, high-fat foods, or carbonated drinks, such as soft drinks
  • Chewing gum, smoking cigarettes, or loose dentures
  • A problem such as celiac disease, pancreatic insufficiency, or ascites
  • A medical condition such as diabetes, gastroparesis, scleroderma, or hypothyroidism
  • A bowel obstruction or cancer of the stomach, bowel, or ovary
  • An infection, such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Weight gain

What are the symptoms of gas and bloating?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating that is worse during the day and better at night
  • Burping or passing gas more often than usual
  • Constipation

How is the cause of gas and bloating diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about what you eat and examine your abdomen. You may need any of the following tests to check for a medical condition that may be causing your symptoms:

  • Blood tests are used to check for problems with your organs or an infection.
  • Gas tests are used to check for H. pylori or a problem with food digestion. You will breathe into a machine that can test your breath for signs of these or other problems.
  • Bowel movement samples may be tested for infection.
  • X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound pictures may show a blockage in your bowels or other problems in your digestive system. Contrast liquid may be given to help the area show up better in pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal may cause serious injury. Tell the provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Endoscopy is used to check your digestive system. An endoscope is a long, flexible tube with a light and tiny camera on the end. The tube is put into your mouth and guided down into your digestive system. Samples may be taken and sent to a lab for tests.
    Upper Endoscopy

How is gas and bloating treated?

Treatment depends on the cause. Gas relief medicines may help decrease gas pain and bloating. These are available without a doctor's order. You may need other medicines to control a medical condition. Surgery may be needed if you have a tumor or a problem such as a bowel obstruction.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage or prevent gas and bloating?

  • Keep a record. Write down what you eat and drink and how often you pass gas each day.
  • Eat and drink slowly. Choose foods that do not cause gas, such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Avoid high-fat foods and vegetables or starches that can cause gas. Do not drink carbonated drinks. Add foods back into your diet one at a time after 1 week. If the food causes symptoms, avoid it.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity, such as exercise, can help relieve gas and constipation. Physical activity can also help you lose weight and keep it off. Your healthcare provider can help you create a physical activity plan.
    Black Family Walking for Exercise
  • Do not smoke cigarettes or chew gum. These can cause you to swallow air.
  • Make sure your dentures fit properly. Have your dentures fixed if they are loose. Loose dentures can cause you to swallow too much air.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You have blood in your bowel movement.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever.
  • You vomit or have diarrhea.
  • You lose weight without trying.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Learn more about Gas and Bloating

Treatment options

Care guides

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.