Digestive health

Gas and bloating

Learn more about what causes gas and bloating problems and how to solve them.

Getting Rid of Gas and Bloating 

Gas can be very embarrassing even though it’s a completely natural part of the body’s digestive process. But it’s undeniable that excessive or recurring gas can quickly become uncomfortable. 


  • Bloating or swelling in the belly due to gas buildup in the intestines  
  • A need to pass gas or eruct (belch or burp)
  • Abdominal discomfort  
  • Intestinal pain
  • Rumbling in the digestive tract
  • Spasms or cramps 

Potential causes

Rest assured: gas and bloating are not usually signs of poor health. The average adult passes gas 13 to 21 times a day, but excessive gas can have a variety causes:    


Foods that are hard to digest pass slowly through your digestive system, causing bloating in the lower belly, spasms and flatulence.  

Swallowing too much air (aerophagia)

We all ingest some air while eating, drinking or swallowing saliva. However, some factors or bad habits can increase the amount of air that gets swallowed, which makes the stomach work while it’s ‘empty’. Nasal congestion, eating too quickly, drinking while eating, smoking, chewing gum, drinking from a straw or slurping a very hot beverage are just a few things that can cause aerophagia. 


Fatty, sweet, spicy, carbonated or acidic foods and beverages can irritate the stomach. 

  • Carbonated drinks (beer, soft drinks): Bubbles in carbonated drinks increase the amount of air that is swallowed.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbs are more slowly broken down and absorbed by the digestive system. This process creates more gas. Moreover, high sugar foods ferment quickly, which can also cause gas.   


Overeating results in a buildup of intestinal gases. Gas or bloating often follows meals that are too large or high in fat or sugar. 


The body responds to anxiety by redirecting blood flow away from the digestive system to the brain and limbs. This intestinal contraction and aerophagia (swallowing too much air) can lead to gas and bloating. 

Food intolerance

Although there are many types of food intolerance, the most common one is lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar in dairy products. 

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth 

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO is an increase of bacteria in the small intestine. Excess bacteria, which normally should be found in the large intestine (colon), occurs when the digestive system is not functioning properly due to stress, diet or an underlying illness. 


Nicotine from tobacco products increases acidity in the stomach. See our advice on how to quit smoking


High-intensity exercise can result in bloating while infrequent exercise leads to slower intestinal contractions, which also causes bloating. Balance is key!


A buildup of waste in the large intestine produces more gas and bloating. 


The uterus can put pressure on the intestine and cause flatulence. Moreover, pregnant women commonly experience periods of constipation during their pregnancy, which also produces gas. To learn more, read our feature on digestion during pregnancy.  


Once the source of gas and bloating has been identified, it’s easy to remedy it. Talk to your Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist so you can make an informed and safe choice.   

Keep a food diary

It’s hard to pinpoint the source of digestive discomfort among the many foods that you eat. Making a note of your meal times, the food you ate, when your symptoms appeared and their intensity will help you find the culprit! 

Here are some foods that commonly cause digestive problems: 

  • Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  • Legumes
  • Wheat, oat and sesame products
  • Asparagus, garlic, onions, shallots and leeks
  • Barley
  • Carbonated drinks and beer  
  • An excessive amount of dairy products

Change your diet

A few changes to your diet can relieve gas and bloating:  

  • Eat more fibre
  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat smaller, more regular meals for smooth digestion
  • Pay attention to signs of hunger and listen to your body’s signals to avoid overeating 

Swallow less air (aerophagia)

  • Avoid talking or drinking while eating
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Drink less beer or carbonated drinks
  • Eat more slowly
  • Avoid drinking out of a straw

Exercise regularly

This can be as simple and pleasant as taking a walk after a meal. In fact, being active after eating stimulates your body and digestive system.  

Learning how to manage stress

There are several things you can do to manage anxiety: breathing techniques, meditation, physical activity and yoga are just a few examples. Read our feature on the topic to learn more.   

Quit smoking

The nicotine in tobacco increases the level of acidity in the stomach, causing gas and bloating. Plus, smoking causes you to swallow more air, which can also lead to digestive problems. See how you can quit smoking.   

Taking medication

Some medication, such as simethicone, can be taken during or after a meal to prevent or relieve gas and bloating. 

An enzyme supplement can also help you absorb and digest complex sugars that cause flatulence. Please note that it will not relieve symptoms that are caused by something else. 

For bloating, activated charcoal can help to absorb gas in the intestines. 

It’s important to consult your Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist before taking medication. 

Medical Emergencies and Chronic Illnesses  

While gas and bloating may be uncomfortable, it is usually a minor and temporary problem. If symptoms are persistent or severe, they may be caused by a more serious medical condition. A physician must be consulted to diagnose and treat these kinds of symptoms. 

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is a sugar that is naturally present in dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, abdominal pain and sometimes alternating constipation and diarrhea. Symptoms may occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating. A variety of lactose-free products are now available in grocery stores as well as dairy alternatives (such as soy milk). However, these options are not always as rich in calcium and vitamin D, so it’s very important to get enough of these nutrients elsewhere (e.g. supplements). Talk to a nutritionist about lactose-free foods that you can eat. If lactose can’t be avoided, lactase enzyme supplements are available at your pharmacy for when you are eating dairy products. Ask your Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist-owner about these supplements. 

Some chronic illnesses or digestive disorders may cause gas and bloating:  

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease (gluten intolerance)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism

Other medical conditions may also cause gas and bloating: 

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastrointestinal infection
  • Food poisoning
  • Appendicitis

If you experience bloating that is painful accompanied by one or several of the following symptoms, consult a physician immediately:

  • Fever
  • Symptoms that started after taking a new medication  
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Symptoms of dehydration
  • Very intense abdominal cramps
  • Leg swelling
  • Symptoms that last too long
  • Blood in the stool 

Your Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist has the expertise to answer all your questions. 

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist-owners cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

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