If you've ever had particularly bad gas before, you know that it can sometimes feel like you're sitting on a pile of balloon animals that are going to burst if you shift an inch. Most of us try really hard to keep this gas inside of our bodies, simply because it's not socially acceptable to do otherwise. But that can end up literally backfiring.
As we've said before, farting is an extremely normal physiological process, that's a byproduct of your gastrointestinal system doing its job. Most people pass gas through the mouth or anus 13 to 21 times a day — they just don't talk about it. "Gas is typically caused by the digestion or the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates by bacteria in the colon," Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told Refinery29. When you eat foods high in fiber, for example, your body can't digest them, and therefore the leftover contents end up making you feel gassy. For a significant chunk of the population who can't digest lactose, dairy foods could also cause gas. And certain sneaky culprits, such as artificial sugar, can turbo-charge that fermentation and increase gas, too.
The point is, gas is not always a problem in and of itself; sometimes it just happens because you've been eating a lot of these types of foods. But because life can be unfair, a buildup of gas can result in abdominal pain and cramps that feel like your stomach is in knots. And that can make the balloon animal sensation described above even worse. So, what can you do besides, you know, release it? Here are a few more proven techniques:
Taking a short 10-to-15-minute post-meal walk is believed to benefit digestion, and could possibly allow the gas in your body to settle down, according to MedlinePlus. You might have also heard from a few yoga instructors that certain poses and stretches can relieve gas. While there's not a much research to back up this claim, twisting postures are often recommended to relieve abdominal pain and aid digestion.
Stop sucking air.
Any air that you swallow can end up in your gastrointestinal tract, and therefore cause gas, according to MedlinePlus. So, you should chill with anything that could be putting extra gas in your system, such as seltzer, cigarettes, gum, beer, and straws. Sometimes, people swallow extra air as a response to anxiety, in which case, some deep-breathing exercises could help you find relief. (Although, if you're someone with IBS, anxiety can exacerbate symptoms such as gas.)
Pop an OTC medication.
There are a number of over-the-counter medications that are aimed at treating gas, either by breaking up the gas "bubbles" in your gastrointestinal tract, or helping your body break down carbohydrates, according to the Mayo Clinic. Of course, if you're lactose intolerant, you might consider taking a lactase enzyme supplement before eating dairy products to lessen the bloat. And if you're looking for a longer-term solution, taking probiotics can help reduce gas in some people with IBS.
Massage your stomach.
Some say that literally massaging your stomach can help relieve feelings of tightness and pressure that come with gas. To do it, gently rub in a circular motion around your stomach, from your hips to your ribs. This might not magically soothe your gas pains, but it can make you feel more comfortable.
Sip a spiced tea.
Some teas can ease gas-related pain and help you digest more easily. Ginger tea is one of them. It's said to decrease both abdominal achiness and constipation. Some herbal teals, including chamomile, lemon balm, and peppermint, also have stomach-soothing effects.
Lie on your side.
Literally, you can just lie down. Stretch out on the floor, your bed, your sofa, or anywhere — wherever you're most comfortable. Settle onto either side, then bring your knees up towards your chest to relieve some tension in your digestive track. If it's not working, move your legs around a little and hug your knees deeper into your chest.
Grab a heating pad or a hot water bottle and place it right on your stomach to relieve your gas pain. The heat will relax the muscles on your abdomen, which in turn allows gas to move through the intestines more gracefully, according to Medical News Today. (Just be careful not to burn yourself. Place it outside your clothes, not directly on your skin.)
According to Mayo Clinic, eating too fast can cause some serious gas pain. Slowing yourself down will decrease the amount of air you swallow, which in turn will decrease the amount of air in your gastrointestinal tract that causes these pains. Try taking a little extra time chewing your food, and placing your fork or spoon down in between bites.