Gas or flatulence is a widespread problem, and many people resign themselves to suffering from it continuously, although there are effective remedies. Among the options to combat them, there are various drugs whose effectiveness will depend on proper use, which go through the doctor’s supervision.
Intestinal gases are formed in the large intestine by the digestion of food by the intestinal flora. It is an entirely normal process. The problem arises “if these gases are produced excessively or are retained,” says Pedro Juan Tárraga López, a member of the Digestive System Working Group of the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians ( SEMG ). In these cases, ” they can produce abdominal pain, which is sometimes intense and sharp, but at other times is persistent and mild”.
In not a few patients, as highlighted by Alberto Cerpa, a specialist in the digestive system at the Medical-Surgical Center for Digestive Diseases (CMED), “treating the problem that produces the appearance of more gas than usual avoids the need to take antiflatulent drugs”. And in many other cases, the origin is not in pathology but in bad habits. Therefore, before resorting to pharmacology, it is advisable to make changes related to diet and lifestyle. Tárrega offers the following advice:
- Take your time: eat slowly, chewing food well.
- Avoid eating foods high in carbohydrates, as they are difficult to digest.
- Avoid drinking liquids during meals or drinking as little as possible, and avoid using carbonated drinks and straws. Likewise, don’t drink directly from the bottle.
- Avoid chewing gum, as it favours air intake.
- Discard tight clothing from your wardrobe.
- Try to walk 10 to 15 minutes after eating.
After putting these guidelines into practice, if intestinal gas persists, “it is advisable to go to the doctor to rule out organic or functional pathology ( inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome)”, stresses the SEMG representative.
In this sense, Cerpa warns that attention to specific warning symptoms is advisable, “such as loss of weight and appetite, tiredness, bloody stools or pale skin .”
Dimethicone and other medicines for gas
Once it has been clear that no disease requires specific treatment, the consumption of one of the drugs available to combat flatulence can be considered, which can significantly alter the daily life of those who suffer from it. “They are usually scheduled on demand, as needed, without the need to take them continuously or for long periods,” says the CMED specialist.
“Medications such as dimethicone, activated charcoal or the alpha-D-reductase enzyme are good options to eliminate the pain and discomfort caused by excess gastrointestinal gas,” describes Tárraga. Generally, these products act quickly.
Dimethicone breaks up gas-trapping bubbles, making them easier to pass and helping to relieve discomfort, pain, and pressure in the stomach or intestine. The dose of this drug for adults is 80-125 mg 3 to 4 times a day (every 6 to 8 hours), without exceeding the maximum amount of 400 mg daily. It is contraindicated in cases with hypersensitivity to any compound of the formula and in those with intestinal obstruction or perforation. Also, it should be used only under medical guidance during pregnancy and lactation.
Medicines with dimethicone or simethicone (activated dimethicone) are sold in pharmacies under different trade names.
Tárraga considers activated charcoal ” a good option to reduce intestinal gas”, which absorbs gas particles that cause flatulence and stomach gases. In addition, “it has antidiarrheal properties because it prevents the activation of toxins and the action of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. This product should be avoided in children under two years of age and people allergic to any formula component. It should also not be used in children older than two years in case of acute or persistent diarrhoea. In addition, during pregnancy or lactation, it should be used only on medical advice. Activated charcoal tablets should be taken orally, with the recommended dose for adults being two capsules 3 or 4 times a day (every 6-8 hours).
Alpha: D-galactosidase is an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrate sugars, aiding digestion and reducing gas caused by intestinal fermentation of foods such as chickpeas or lentils. This medicine is recommended for people over 12 years of age and adults. According to the SEMG spokesperson, “it is advisable to see a doctor for guidance on the appropriate dose and time of use. It is also administered orally.
Lactase pills can be indicated in intestinal gas in those who suffer from lactose intolerance since ” they help the body to digest foods with lactose, avoiding symptoms caused by the lack of this enzyme, such as a swollen belly and pain. abdominal”””, highlights Tárraga. People with diabetes should not use this medicine. People are suffering from galactosemia or are allergic to any formula component. They are pills that are administered orally before eating food containing lactase. “The doctor or nutritionist must guide the dose after diagnosing the lactase enzyme deficiency”, warns the SEMG doctor.
Rifaximin is a non-absorbable oral antibiotic that has decreased bloating and gas production due to its effect on gas-producing bacteria. It is generally indicated against bacteria in people with hepatic encephalopathy. “The use of this medication is subject to medical evaluation and prescription, so it is necessary to see a gastroenterologist or general practitioner to guide on the appropriate dose and time of use,” explains Tárraga. However, it is contraindicated in cases of intestinal obstruction or allergy to the formula’s components. The usual dose in adults is 400 mg every 12 hours, but the doctor may indicate another administration schedule.
Cerpa comments on the possible adverse effects of all these drugs, which “are infrequent”: ” Nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, flatulence, spikes or skin rashes.””” She points out that they are contraindicated ” in case of hypersensitivity to any of its components” and, as a general rule, “it is not recommended that the treatment be taken continuously for more than two weeks”. After that period, “if there is no improvement, other options must be assessed.”””
Home remedies for gas
Tárraga points out the existence of ” teas and natural remedies that help treat gastrointestinal gases”, such as anise, nutmeg, cardamom or cinnamon, which favour the expulsion of gases. “Anise prevents muscle contractions by promoting relaxation of the intestine muscles”. At the same time, ginger “helps digestion and improves colic because it reduces muscle spasms”, and peppermint “decreases the natural movements of the intestine, preventing gases are expelled. This last remedy is not indicated in people who suffer from constipation.