Q. For the past few years I have had the most disgusting problem with gas. I work in an office and this problem is extremely embarrassing. I don’t even go to church any more because I never know when it will happen.
I’ve tried to remember what I ate the day before, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve also tried all the gas pills on the market and none of them work. Do you have anything to suggest?
A. Instead of trying to remember what you have eaten, write it down. Then count and record your “flatus events” too. This should help you determine if you have more trouble with pretzels and bagels or apples, raisins and radishes. Sugarless sweeteners like sorbitol may also be to blame.
Some people react to milk and other dairy products with gas and diarrhea. That’s because they lack the enzyme lactase which is needed to digest milk sugar (lactose). By the way, ask your pharmacist whether any of the pills you take (prescription or over-the-counter remedies) contain lactose. That can be an unexpected source of the problem. Even if there is no lactose as a filler, some medications can cause flatulence. While you are at it, ask the pharmacist whether your medicine might be directly responsible for the gas.
Many people cannot tolerate gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley. We are learning that celiac disease or inability to handle gluten is a lot more common than most people ever imagined. The latest studies suggest that one person out of 100 may be vulnerable to this condition.
A proper diagnosis can help determine the cause of your gas. If the problem is milk, Lactaid or another lactase product can be helpful. Beano contains an enzyme that breaks down complex sugars found in beans, broccoli and other vegetables. If gluten is the culprit, you will have to avoid all gluten-containing foods. You may also want to add probiotics to your diet. These beneficial bacteria can sometimes restore balance to the digestive tract and diminish the gas attacks.
We are sending you our Guide to Digestive Disorders with more information about such products and other strategies for fighting flatulence. Anyone who would like a copy, can download it from our library of Guides.
Fennel seed tea is a traditional remedy for gas. Crush a teaspoon of fennel seeds, add a cup of boiling water, steep for five minutes and sip.
If all else fails, you may want to take a special cushion to work that will solve the odor problem for those around you. Here is what one reader asked:
Q. I have been searching high and low for a pillow that is supposed to deodorize gas. You sit on it and something inside the cushion traps offensive odors. If you’ve written about this product, please give me the particulars.
A. Activated charcoal has long been used to trap noxious gasses and chemicals. It is used in gas masks and has been used orally to treat accidental poisoning. Activated charcoal capsules are also marketed to alleviate flatulence.
For some additional tips on how to overcome gas, we suggest that you may find our video, “How to Prevent Flatulence” of some value.
We hope one of these tips is useful.