Flatulence or Gas Problem

This is the term given to the condition where an excessive amount of air or gas in the stomach and intestinal tract causes distension of the organs and in some cases mild to moderate pain. This can result in uncomfortable feelings of bloating, as well as increased belching or passing of gas from the rectum.

Gas or wind, (known as flatus, pronounced FLAY-tuss) is comprised of five odourless gases: nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen. Trace gases such as skatole, indole, and sulphur-containing compounds give gas its characteristic odour. Large quantities of this gas may cause pain in the abdomen, bloating, belching, bloating and Flatulence usually with a noxious smell.

The bacteria that live in the human colon digest or ferment food that is not absorbed by the digestive tract. These bacteria determine the proportions of intestinal gases. Depending on a person's eating habits and state of health an estimated 30 to 150 grams of this undigested food reaches the colon in the form of carbohydrate every day.

An infant that is being breastfed may develop infant colic and Flatulence as a result of his/her mother's diet. Some examples of foods in a mother's diet that may promote Flatulence in her baby include; cabbage, onions, garlic, wheat and yeast. Flatulence, bloating and colic may also develop in an infant due to swallowing air, overfeeding, intestinal allergy, and emotional factors.

CAUSE
Swallowing Air causes an increased intake of gas into the digestive tract. If swallowed air is not burped up it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as flatus.

Excess gas production by bacteria in the colon is the most common cause of Flatulence. Certain foods contain carbohydrates that are not absorbed well by the human digestive tract.

Lactose intolerance is a common cause of Flatulence. Lactose Intolerance is caused by a lactase enzyme deficiency, which results in a decreased ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Flatulence caused by this condition may also be associated with diarrhoea and cramping

Constipation is a common cause of Flatulence. Constipation slows the transit of waste matter through the colon. This gives bacteria an increased opportunity to ferment this remaining material and produce excessive gas that can result in Flatulence.

Medical conditions that can cause Flatulence include; bowel obstructions, cirrhosis of the liver, colon or rectal cancer, Crohn's disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, gallstones, giardia, peptic ulcer disease, splenic flexure syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted. Your Doctor will diagnose and treat this condition. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. Flatulence is not a serious ailment, however, if the symptoms are severe and persistent it is advisable to see your Doctor. Seek medical advice if Flatulence occurs with a change in bowel habits, persistent diarrohea, constipation, blood in the stool, fever, abdominal pain and bloating, nausea or vomiting.

DIET HINTS
• Excess Wind or Flatulence may be related to eating too quickly, poor digestion, eating certain foods known to be wind producing, food allergies, food sensitivities and constipation.
• It is best to eat slowly, chew well and eat several small meals and snacks through the day.
• Poor digestion can be improved by choosing low fat foods, separating starches and proteins into different meals (this is called "Food Combining”) and including enzyme-rich foods such as fresh papaya and fresh pineapple. A supplement of digestive enzymes may be beneficial.
• If constipation is a problem, increase your intake of cereal fibres, fruit and vegetables and drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.
• Milk and other dairy products can sometimes cause Flatulence in people with a lactase deficiency. Lactase is the enzyme, which breaks down lactose (milk sugar) before it is absorbed by the body.
• Acidophilus is found in yoghurt and helps to increase the good bacteria in the bowel and help destroy the bad bacteria which can cause Flatulence

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
Nutritional supplements are only to be taken if the dietary vitamin intake is inadequate. Vitamin C, B group vitamins, Multi-Vitamin and Minerals, charcoal, gentian, acidophilus, chamomile, slippery elm, garlic.
Peppermint is a well-known carminative and helps relieve excessive gas, as well as abdominal pain and bloating. Peppermint oil is available in enterically coated capsules, which clinical studies have shown to be of considerable benefit in relieving the symptoms of wind or flatulence.

DIET SHOULD BE LOW IN
The following foods contain carbohydrates that are not absorbed well by the human digestive tract. In some cases eating these foods may produce Flatulence. The following vegetables, fruit beans and legumes are however an important part of a healthy diet and should not be eliminated from the diet.
• Broccoli
• Cabbage
• Brussels sprouts
• Beans and legumes
• Cauliflower
• Onions
• Prunes
• Dark beer
• Red wine
• Sorbitol (a sweetener in sugar-free gum, lollies, and other diet products)
• Fructose (found in fruits and honey, and soft drinks).
• Carbonated drinks
• Sugar
• Fried and fatty foods
• Raw apple
• Milk and other dairy products
• Eggs.

AROMATHERAPY
The listed essential oils are suggested for the health management of Flatulence. The most specific oils are shown in capitals.
Benzoin, Black Pepper, PEPPERMINT, Ylang Ylang

Application
MASSAGE: Blend any single listed essential oil or combination of several essential oils - 5 drops (total) to 10mL (1/3 fl oz) carrier oil i.e.: Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel. Apply with gentle massage to abdomen in clockwise direction.
These recommendations are for an adult. For infants over 3 months and up to 2 years, use 1/4 dose i.e.: 1 drop to 10ml(1/3 fl oz); children 2-12 years and during pregnancy use 1/2 dose.

NOTES
Seek medical advice if Flatulence occurs with a change in bowel habits, persistent diarrohea, constipation, blood in the stool, fever, abdominal pain and bloating, nausea or vomiting.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. If constipation is a problem ask your Pharmacist to recommend a suitable fibre supplement.
3. An acidophilus supplement may help to reduce the severity of Flatulence by restoring the balance of the friendly bacteria in the bowel
4. Flatulence may result from inadequate digestion. In these cases supplementing with digestive enzymes may help to improve Flatulence. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
5. Swallowing air can be a cause of Flatulence. To prevent this avoid rapid drinking, chewing gum, use of tobacco products, sucking on hard lollies and drinking carbonated beverages
6. Activated charcoal can be taken as a supplement to help reduce Flatulence.