Q: What can I do about gas and belching?
A: Gas complaints are very common and take the form of belching, bloating or excess rectal gas. Gas in the digestive system is either from swallowing air, drinking carbonated beverages or production of gas by the bacteria in your gut. Belching comes from swallowing air or carbonation. Most patients don't realize they are swallowing excess air. This happens when you eat fast, chew gum, suck on hard candy or have acid reflux or chronic postnasal drip. Treatment includes education on what to avoid. Bloating is usually not related to excessive gas unless there is an obstruction in the GI track. It usually represents in the patient unconsciously protruding the abdomen. Weak abdominal muscles may be a factor. X-rays during bloating surprisingly enough do not show any increased gas unless there is an obstruction. There is no good treatment for bloating, but over-the-counter medications such as Gas-X, charcoal tablets or pancreatic enzymes can be tried. Strengthening the abdominal muscles also may help.
-- Dr. Richard A. Krause,
medical director, ClinSearch; member,
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
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