Do you ever get so gassy you’re in pain?
If so, you’re not the only one. Stomach pain caused by gas is a common concern. Luckily, you can get swift relief from stomach pain gas once you know how.
But what causes gas? Read on to discover how gas forms, why it can cause you pain and what you can do about it.
What causes excessive gas?
Gas or ‘wind’ is a normal by-product of the digestive process with most people passing wind around 5 – 15 times per day. 1
The bacteria in our gut work to break down fibres and starches in the food we eat, creating several different gases in the process including carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane. 2
Certain foods, such as beans and cruciferous vegetables can increase the amount of gas you produce. Some people are sensitive to natural sugars like fructose and lactose, so things like onions, wheat and dairy products can make them extra gassy. 3
Swallowing air can also present as trapped gas in our abdomen. We are likely to swallow more air by eating quickly, using straws, chewing gum and gulping drinks.
Symptoms of trapped gas include: 4
- Stomach bloating
- Pain in the abdomen
- Flatulence – burping and passing wind
- Uncomfortable feeling of fullness
- Stomach cramps
- Gurgling noises in your abdomen
- Visibly larger abdomen (distention)
Why can stomach gas cause pain?
Excess gas takes up space in the digestive system, causing pressure on the other organs in the abdominal cavity.
This pain is relieved once the excess gas has passed through the body in the form of burping or passing wind. A bowel movement can also help relieve stomach pain and gas.
6 ways to relieve stomach pain caused by gas
Our top tip for relief from stomach gas.
A DIY tummy massage can help stimulate your digestive system and move waste through. This helps to encourage gas to make its way towards the exit, where it will be eliminated by the body as passed wind.
Pressing your fingers around an inch into your abdomen, so you feel the muscle when you clench, begin near your pelvic bone on the right-hand side. Then, begin making small circles.
Either continuing with the small circles or trying some longer, sweeping strokes, move your hands gradually over the rest of your abdomen. Your digestion takes place in a clockwise direction, so always move your hands clockwise around the abdomen. 5
You might hear some gurgling as you perform this massage, which is a good sign as it means you’ve woken up your digestive tract and got the gas moving in the right direction.
The active ingredient in peppermint – menthol – is also an anti-spasmodic and can prevent smooth muscles in your gut wall from contracting. 6 The presence of menthol in the digestive system also speeds up transit of food through the gut, reducing the amount of time undigested food hangs around producing gas.
Enjoy the benefits of peppermint in a tea, or try peppermint oil capsules
Used as a digestive support in many cultures across the world, fennel seeds can help relax the gut muscles and allow gas a freer passage out of the body.7
Fennel might also be able to help reduce the amount of unpleasant gas caused by fermenting bacteria, as it holds antibacterial properties. 8
If you regularly feel bloated due to trapped wind, get into the habit of sipping fennel tea after every meal.
4. Yoga positions
There are several yoga positions which could help.
Holding your body in these poses can activate the gut muscles, help promote good digestion and even squeeze trapped wind along your colon.
Try the trapped wind-relieving pose (known in yoga as Pawanmuktasana).
- Lie on your back on the floor. Use a mat for comfort.
- With your ankles and knees together, bring your knees up towards your chest, placing your hands on your knees as they bend.
- Bending your arms at the elbows, bring the knees close into your chest and hold them there for a few moments. It should feel curling up into a ball on your back.
- Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds, then release. Do this several times.
You might hear gurgling or pass wind during this exercise. This is how you know it’s working!
According to the NHS, a brisk walk of 20 to 30 minute brisk walk 4 times a week can improve your bowel function. 9
Last Updated: 18th November 2020
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.