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Intestinal Gas Guide

Several over-the-counter digestive aids and dietary supplements are advertised to help with gas problems. There is limited evidence that they are helpful, and they are more likely to alleviate bloating or flatus (passing gas from the rectum) than they are to reduce belching.

Activated charcoal products (Charcocaps or CharcoAid) and bismuth (Colo-Fresh, Devrom, Diotame, Kaopectate, or Pepto-Bismol) bind to undigested substances and may help to reduce the volume or smell of gas that is passed through the lower intestine. These products might reduce the odor of belches. Charcoal and bismuth products may prevent you from absorbing your usual medications from the digestive tract, so you should speak with your doctor or pharmacist prior to using them.

Non-prescription medicines that are sold as digestive aids may contain the ingredient "simethicone." This substance has been advertised as a gas-relieving medicine that may reduce bloating, but studies that have been done on the drug have not shown a convincing benefit. It affects the surface tension of small bubbles, causing them to combine into larger bubbles. Theoretically, larger bubbles may be easier to eliminate by burping. Medicines that contain simethicone would not be expected to reduce burping frequency. In theory, they might increase burps while reducing bloating or flatus. Examples of products that contain simethicone include Maalox Anti-Gas, Mylanta Gas, Gas-X, and Phazyme.

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