It’s the food that causes the pain
If there is an excessive amount of gas in the bowels, pressure on the intestinal wall causes a pain sensation. The belly bulges and feels tight. Rumbling bowel sounds and strong bubbling in the abdomen are also characteristic.
The affected persons often complain of a feeling of fullness and of being »bloated«. In severe cases, colicky pains can develop. In rare cases, heart anxiety and breathing difficulties – the so-called Roemheld syndrome – can also be observed with flatulence.
The amount of the produced gases largely depends on the composition of the food. The formation of gas increases, for example, after the consumption of bloating meals such as cabbage, pulses and wholemeal products. These food products contain relatively large amounts of fibres, which cannot be digested in a human’s small intestines. The fibres reach the colon and there they serve as food for certain intestinal bacteria. Equally, an excessive intake of sugars can cause a fermentation dyspepsia through an increased microbial degradation. Large quantities of carbonated beverages, such as sparkling mineral water or beer can also noticeably increase the amount of intestinal gases. Frequent additional causes are compiled in the table. Especially when travelling, people often have to struggle with meteorism. Unaccustomed food, particularly limited movement capacity on long bus journeys or long-distance flights, can lead to trapped digestive gases. In such cases the first-aid kit should include medicines for flatulence. Sensitive persons should, already at the onset of their journey, begin taking the medicine as a prophylaxis.
As burdensome and perhaps even painful flatulence may be, it does not in itself pose a health risk. Slight symptoms can easily be treated by self-medication. Various medicines are available, in particular defoaming silicone preparations and herbal medicines.
Dimethicone and Simethicone are macromolecules which reduce the surface tension of gas foams in the bowels, thereby allowing the intestinal gases to be better resorbed and to be easier removed in the form of small bubbles. The substances themselves are not resorbed and are very well tolerated. The medicines need to be taken regularly with or after meals. In the case of chewable tablets, it is important that these are finely chewed and then quickly swallowed. As drops, dimethicone and simethicone preparations are also suitable for babies.
A large number of medicinal plants contains ethereal oils which, due to their spasmolytic, digestive and fermentation-repressive effect, can be effectively used for meteorism and flatulence. Peppermint, aniseed, fennel and caraway seeds as tea and tinctures have a long tradition as carminatives. Drugs containing bitter substances such as bitter orange peel, condurango rind, wormwood and gentian root stimulate the appetite and the production of gastric juices and bile. Many preparations and teas contain bitter substances as well as carminatives.
Camomile or peppermint tea as well as hot compresses can provide relief from light spasmodic symptoms. For severe spasms butyl scopolamine can be helpful – in the case of recurring spasms and severe complaints, however, it is absolutely necessary to have this examined by a doctor as flatulence can also be a symptom of an illness.
For example, flatulence often occurs in connection with an irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, or if certain sugars, such as lactose, fructose or sorbitol cannot be digested or resorbed by endogenous enzymes. Pharmaceutical assistants and pharmacists can advise the customer to keep a symptoms diary. In this it should be recorded when the symptoms occur, which food has been previously consumed, if there was a bowel movement and if there were any peculiarities in the course of the day. The patient is thereby helping the doctor to find the cause of those symptoms. If it is successfully treated, the pressure in the abdomen and the embarrassing gases will disappear.
If a lack of pancreatic enzymes underlie the digestive disorders, enzyme preparations can be helpful. They are also available in firm combination with defoaming active substances. After an antibiotics therapy or a therapy with acarbose, a disorder of the intestinal flora can occur and impede the enzyme α-glycosidase and thus the degradation of carbohydrates. It is hoped this will only slowly increase the blood glucose level after a meal. But subsequently undigested carbohydrates increasingly enter the colon resulting in an increased gas formation after a microbial decomposition. The symptoms will turn out milder if medication is dosed gradually in small quantities. As serious illnesses such as intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, peritonitis, liver cirrhosis or cardiac insufficiency show similar symptoms to meteorism, those concerned should always seek the advice of a doctor if the complaints are severe and persist.
|Atembeklemmung||breathing difficulty|||||Herzbeklemmung||heart anxiety|
|Bittermittel||bitter substances|||||Oberflächenspannung||surface tension|
|Blähungen||flatulence, bloating|||||Pankreasenzyme||pancreatic enzyme|
|Darmbakterien||intestinal bacteria|||||Reiseapotheke||first-aid kit|
|Darmgeräusche||bowel sounds|||||Reizdarmsyndrom||irritable bowel syndrome|
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