A burp is a common sign that you’re, well, experiencing some gas. Chest pain, on the other hand, is a gas symptom that’s way less discussed.
“Gas can cause more than just pain in the belly. Gas can be described as a stabbing pain or tightness in the chest, which mimics chest pain,” Dr. Monisha Bhanote, MD, FCAP, an integrative medicine physician, said.
According to Dr. Bhanote, gas is created in the body two ways: by swallowing air and through the digestive process.
When one eats or drinks too quickly, they can swallow air, which may lead to gas accumulation in the stomach; so, eating slower could help, she explained.
As for digestion, Dr. Bhanote said that not all of the sugar, starch, and fiber one consumes is broken down in the small intestine. It passes onto the large intestine, where bacteria further breaks it down into carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane, which eventually leaves the body.
“Certain foods may also increase gas in individuals. This varies based not only on the food but on the bacterial colonization of the individual’s gastrointestinal tract. Common culprits may include cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage [and] whole grains, as well as dairy products, soft drinks, beans, and some fruits.”
Those experiencing chest pain should always consult a doctor about a diagnosis and treatment — Dr. Bhanote stressed this if your gas is persistent and severe enough to affect your daily activities or cause changes in bowel movements, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or bloody stools. And if you’re experiencing prolonged abdominal or chest pain that is out of the ordinary, Dr. Bhanote said to seek immediate care.
One topic worth discussing with your doctor is how to reduce gas by adjusting your eating habits. Dr. Bhanote suggested exploring possible food intolerances and eliminating unnecessary contributors to gas production, like carbonated beverages and sugar substitutes.
Slowing down when eating, avoiding drinking through a straw, and passing on chewing gum are easy ways to avoiding swallowing access air, she added.
And if you’re unable to prevent gas from building up, there are some holistic approaches you can take (with a doctor’s permission!) to feel better.
“Some herbal teas can aid in the digestive process and reduce gas. These may include any combination of ginger, peppermint, chamomile, or anise.”
Additionaly, you can drink a glass of water with added apple cider vinegar before a meal to help prevent gas and bloating, Dr. Bhanote said. Getting active after a meal can also help by moving nutrients through your body more efficiently.
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