It's no surprise that eating a heavy meal or enjoying too many refried beans can contribute to gas, but there are a number of nonfood-related habits that can cause gas, abdominal pain and

belching.


"We tend to think of foods as being a fantastic answer to gas, but it's usually not," says Mark DeLegge, M.D., spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association and professor of medicine and director of the Digestive Disease Center at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. "Oftentimes it ends up being caused by some other habit that the patient has."


Whether your stomach gets bloated after eating a specific food or two or from one of these nonfood habits varies widely from person to person. The trick is figuring out what triggers your symptoms.


"The only way for us to find out is to really stop the habit, completely for a week or two and see if it makes a difference," says DeLegge.

And while symptoms of bloating, belching and passing gas are not typically life threatening, DeLegge says that if they become persistent or if the pain starts to interrupt your quality of life or if you develop nausea, vomiting, fever or have a major change in your bowel movements, you should see your doctor. These symptoms could be a sign of something more serious like irritable bowel syndrome, a partial bowel obstruction, or gastroparesis, says DeLegge.

Read on to learn about the most common nonfood causes of gas.


Eating Too Fast
Sometimes it's not what you eat but how fast you eat it.

"When you're eating or drinking rapidly, food and liquid are going down, but so is air," says DeLegge.

Slowing down is imperative. We're all in a hurry, but DeLegge says to allow 20 to 30 minutes to eat a meal, which should give you enough time to adequately chew your food (ideally until it's pulp like) before swallowing.


Chewing Gum
Chronic gum chewers tend to swallow more air, which can fill the gut.

"If your stomach is full of air, you may belch," says DeLegge. "Or, just like with food, some of that air moves from the stomach quickly into the small intestines and then you can end up withbloating or you may pass it through your rectum with [gas]." 


Drinking Too Many Carbonated Beverages
Those fizzy bubbles that make carbonated drinks appealing are actually made up of gas -- carbon dioxide. Depending on how much and how rapidly you drink, they can result in belching, passing gas or bloating.


Enjoying Excessive Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Your sweetener packets can lead to tummy troubles. Just like carbohydrates and foods that are high in sugar, pure sugar and artificial versions get converted to gas quickly as bacteria in the gut try to break them down.

"Sugars, fructose and sucrose sometimes aren't well digested by the bacteria in the gut, and what those bacteria make as their waste product is gas," says DeLegge.


Taking Antibiotics
Antibiotic use can change the bacterial makeup of your gut and result in the overproduction of gas, which causes belching, bloating and abdominal discomfort. The symptoms should resolve once you complete the course of the medication and begin eating regularly, says DeLegge. But if you're on long-term antibiotics, talk to your doctor about switching medications or taking a probiotic, which can help repopulate your gut with good bacteria.


Eating or Drinking Very Hot or Very Cold Foods
In addition to eating slowly, eating your food at room temperature is one of the best things you can do to reduce excess gas or bloating, says DeLegge. When you eat or drink something too hot or too cold, you often try to neutralize it by swallowing air.

"You try to change the temperature yourself. You don't realize you're doing it, but that's what you're doing and you swallow air."


Sensitive Stomach
The roll of the genetic dice may have left you with a stomach that is simply more sensitive to gas.

"You might have the same amount of gas in your gut as I, but you may feel like you're about to explode, and I feel perfectly fine," says DeLegge. "That has to do with the nerves in the gut and the sensation those nerves in the gut send to your brain."

A sensitive gut, along with increased gas, may be signs of irritable bowel syndrome, says DeLegge, in which case you should see your doctor.


Swallowing Too Much Air
While you might consciously breathe through your nose during yoga class, what about when you're not doing sun salutations? Some people tend to breathe through their mouths a lot more than their noses without even thinking about it, says DeLegge.

"While some of that air is going into your lungs, some of it is going down through your esophagus and into your gut."

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M Junaid Tahir 

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