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As They Grow: Feeling Gassy?

Feeling Gassy?

Gas is in everyone’s stomach and intestine. The main source

is swallowed air. Gas is also made in our colon (the large in- testine) by resident bacteria, which digest certain components of incompletely absorbed foods. Some examples are fiber-rich foods like whole grains and sugars within mushrooms and some fruits and vegetables. Sweeteners like sorbitol in chew- ing gum and carbonated drinks also contribute to gas. Gas contains mostly hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide, which are odorless. Did you know? The smelly part of gas comes from certain gases like hydrogen sulfide.

Gas is passed every day. Swallowed air not removed by burping will pass through the gastrointestinal tract and eventually pass through the bum along with gases made by the bacteria. Passing gas is normal and generally not a problem. However, some people can make too much gas by eating lots of foods that are indigestible, which end up being eaten up by the bac- teria in the colon. Symptoms may include bloating, cramps, or tummy pain. Air swallowing resulting in too much burping or belching can happen in infants who suck on pacifiers or in older kids who chew gum.

What can you do about this?
• Try avoiding certain foods that cause gas. The trigger can vary between different individuals so keeping track of foods can help.
• In general, try to stay away from certain fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. Some examples are beans, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.
• Pre-soaking high-fiber foods and cooking them can help decrease their gas- forming effects.
• Children should also avoid sweeteners like sorbitol, chewing gum, and carbonated drinks.
• Individuals who are lactose intolerant may benefit from using lactase enzyme supplements to be taken with milk products.

Ask your doctor if supplements or diet changes are right for your child. While gas may be normal, too much can be bother- some so try these measures. Don’t let gas cause a stink in your life!

Becky Biqi Chen was a resident in general pediatrics for three years at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. She is currently specializing in pediatric gastroenterology during her fellowship at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital.


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