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Gas in ChildrenBaby Holding Feet

Gas – Everyone has it, no matter how small or big we are. We eliminate it by burping or passing it on the other end.  Passing gas 14 to 23 times a day is normal for both adults and children. Even though it is entirely natural and unavoidable, it can be embarrassing.  Furthermore, when gas does not pass easily, pain often results…upset stomach, bloating and cramping.

Baby boy with GasChildren are particularly susceptible to discomfort caused by gas as their delicate digestive systems develop and learn to move gas through their digestive tracts effectively.  Understanding causes, ways to reduce symptoms and treatment will help most find relief. If a child has persistently painful or extreme gassiness, it should be brought to the attention of your doctor, as it could be the sign of a more serious medical problem.

Causes of Gas

Gas in the digestive tract (that is, the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine) comes from two main sources:

  • Swallowed air
  • Normal breakdown of undigested foods

Swallowed Air

The first common source of gas is intake through the mouth.  Air swallowing (aerophagia) is the common cause of air in the stomach.  Everyone swallows small amounts of air when eating and drinking, and talking while eating. However, eating or drinking rapidly causes even more air intake.  Eating more slowly, in as relaxed a manner as possible (as hard as that may be for children!) and, chewing the food better can significantly reduce the amount of swallowed air.  For older children, it’s also helpful to avoid chewing gum and sucking on hard candy.

Boy Leaning Down

Crying also introduces more air into the stomach.  A certain amount of crying is normal in all children as an important part of communication. Crying is simply how babies communicate a need. Toddlers’ crying may also indicate that they are hungry, lonely, warm, cold, uncomfortable or in need of a diaper change. Or crying could just be a mood as they learn to cope with emotions. Many toddlers go through periods of crying for no apparent reason, as they simply get used to the world. Crying in general causes children to gulp air into their digestive systems. These air bubbles can get trapped in their stomach and/or passed on to the intestine. Gas pain can also be a direct result of air swallowed during crying.

Teething often results in crying and, therefore, more air intake into the stomach.  Gums are often sore and the extra saliva production during teething contains enzymes which cause upset stomach.  All of this usually results in more crying, which can make children gassier and more irritable, and so the cycle continues.

Symptoms in the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract Caused by Swallowed Air

Burping and Hiccups

The way most swallowed air – which contains nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide – leaves the stomach is through burping or belching.  Swallowed air can also result in hiccups. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the chest, becomes irritated. Some things that irritate the diaphragm are eating too quickly or too much, an irritation in the stomach or the throat, or feeling nervous or excited. Usually, hiccups last only a few minutes. Some cases of the hiccups can last for days or weeks, but this is very unusual and it’s usually a sign of another medical problem.

Mom and Baby Bonding

If a child hiccups or burps while eating, it may indicate that too much air is being swallowed during feeding.  Again, eating more slowly and calmly (avoid gulping), and chewing well should reduce air intake and aid digestion.  Avoid the use of straws, too. All of this will prevent too much gas from entering the digestive system and creating these symptoms or symptoms in the lower digestive tract, because when gas does remain in the stomach, it moves on into the small intestine, where it is only partially absorbed.  The rest travels into the large intestine, where it may cause other painful symptoms like cramping and bloating, before being released through the rectum.

Bloating and Upset Stomach

Gas has buoyancy and gas pockets can become trapped in the upper and lower intestines. The gas acts like a cork, impeding or halting the flow of gastric juices and causing pressure to be built up. This pressure causes painful bloating and swelling of the abdomen. When gas pockets form in the stomach, this can cause the stomach to distend, causing discomfort or pain.

Reflux

Gas build-up in the stomach can also create pressure that results in stomach contents coming back up the esophagus, commonly known as “reflux.” Children can have reflux at any age, though it is more common in infants under 1 year. Reflux can be very painful, as many adults also know firsthand.  Often, it comes as a burning feeling  in the chest or stomach, which may wake children at night while they are in a horizontal position. If a child is obese, there is a greater chance of reflux occurring, due to the change in the dynamics of the esophageal muscle.  Reflux can also be triggered by foods.  Common culprits include fatty fast foods, spicy foods, citrus foods, peppermint, chocolate, caffeine, and eating large meals or too close to bedtime.

Symptoms in the Lower Gastrointestinal Tract Caused by Gas during the Breakdown of Undigested Foods

Complex carbohydrates (the sugar, starches and fiber found in many foods) and cellulose are not normally digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract because of a shortage or absence of certain enzymes in the human body.  The undigested food then passes from the small intestine to the large intestine, where normal, harmless bacteria break down the food, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and in some people, methane.  Trace gases, like hydrogen sulfide, are responsible for the characteristic, unpleasant odor. The amounts of these gases largely depend on the bacteria that live in the colon and digest, or ferment, food that has not been absorbed by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract prior to reaching the colon.  The amount of undigested food that reaches the colon in the form of carbohydrate can vary with diet and how well one’s GI tract is functioning.

While gas is a normal by-product of digestion, it may cause bloating and pain, though not everyone has these symptoms.  Discomfort can depend on how much gas the body makes and how sensitive a person is to the gas produced in the large intestine.

Make Dietary Changes

Changing what you eat and drink can help prevent or relieve gas.  Most foods that contain carbohydrates can cause gas.  A starch is a complex carbohydrate, and the more complex a carbohydrate, the higher its propensity for causing gas. Potatoes, corn, wheat and most other starches are broken down mostly in the large intestine, where they usually produce plenty of gas. In contrast, fats and proteins cause little gas (though certain proteins may intensify gas odor).  Foods that are commonly known to produce gas can have the same effect in children as they do in adults. They can even be passed from breast-feeding mother to infant. Cutting down on foods that cause gas may make a big difference, though the amount of gas caused by certain foods may vary from person to person.  Again, it all depends on the amount and types of bacteria each person has in the large intestine. Gas-producing foods may not need to be eliminated entirely, unless one has food intolerance (or food sensitivity). Sometimes, eating smaller amounts will help to reduce flatulence. Trial and error is often the best way to determine one’s own limits.

As you look at the following list of foods commonly known to contribute to gas, bloating and flatulence, you will notice that many are “good for you” – they offer significant nutritional benefit.  That is why it is important to accurately identify which foods present a problem in producing gas and accompanying symptoms, so that you don’t restrict foods that do not.

The Tummy Calm Gas Journal can help you accomplish this. Use it to help pinpoint foods/drinks that seem to cause digestive discomfort. (Log potential gas-producing offenders and amounts.  Also keep track of the number of times your child passes gas). It can be helpful to share with your doctor, to help answer questions about eating habits and symptoms.

Gas-producing foods usually contain certain sugars (fructose, lactose, raffinose and sorbitol) and/or soluble fiber.  Because these substances are not digested in the stomach, they make their way down to the intestines where bacteria break them down.  The end result of this process is the release of gas in the intestines.

Here is a list of foods commonly known to cause gas:

Legumes1. Vegetables and Legumes – The following vegetables have made their way onto this list because they contain raffinose and/or fructose: artichokes, asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, lentils, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, green peppers, turnips.

Hint: If you cook with dry beans, soak them in water overnight, then pour off the water and cook the soaked beans in fresh water. This may reduce the amount of natural sugars in the beans after the cooling process and help prevent gas and bloating.

Fruits2. Fruits – Especially fruits that contain fructose, sorbitol and/or soluble fiber: apples, apricots, bananas, oranges, peaches, pears, prunes, raisins.
Dairy3. Dairy Products – Contain lactose (milk sugar). Even if you have not been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you may find that eating dairy products results in gas: milk, cheese, ice cream, processed foods containing milk products (many breads, cereals and salad dressings, for example).

Hint: If you do have lactose intolerance, lactase enzyme supplements, such as Dairy Ease and LactAid, can be taken with dairy products to help break down lactose in food.

Whole Grains4. Certain Whole Grains – Although whole grains are quite healthy for you, some of them contain soluble fiber and/or raffinose, which can contribute to excess gas: barley, flax seed, oat bran, wheat.
Snacks5. Snack Foods – Read the labels of sugar-free candies and gums to ensure that they don’t contain sorbitol. Nuts and seeds (like sunflower and poppy seeds) are often a good source of soluble fiber and thus may be problematic in producing gas.
Sodas6. Drinks – Certain beverages may contain fructose, sorbitol and/or carbonation, all of which can contribute to intestinal gas: sodas and other carbonated drinks, fruit drinks, fruit juices.

Introduction of New Foods

The introduction of solid foods in older babies and toddlers creates changes that may take some time getting used to, since different enzymes and probiotics must build up gut flora to digest and absorb nutrients. As the development occurs, children may have a difficult time processing foods new to their systems. New foods should be introduced one at a time; allowing a week between new foods is ideal to make sure there are no food intolerances (sensitivities) or allergies.

Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Only about six to eight percent of children have true food allergies. Most of these children are under the age of six. The process of any allergic reaction occurs when the body mistakes something like a food or pollen as a harmful and dangerous invader.  The body reacts by releasing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE).  The IgE in turn prompts the body to release chemicals known as histamines. When the histamines are released, the body reacts by producing symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, a skin rash and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.  In a food allergy, the body’s immune system is involved.

Remember, always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your child, especially if there is a family history of food allergies.

An intolerance to a food is not the same as an allergy to a food and its symptoms typically involve trouble within the intestines. Food intolerance is often confused with food allergy because they can have similar symptoms. With food intolerance, however, one usually gets milder symptoms, often focused around digestive discomfort, such as upset stomach, gas, and bloating.

A food reaction or intolerance does not involve the immune system, and it may be the case that a food that caused a reaction is easily tolerated at a future time.  A good example of this is citrus fruits. Citrus fruits may cause a reaction or an intolerance in infants because of the high acidity of the fruit.  The infant may not react with an immune response, but more likely, the infant reacts with either a gastrointestinal response or a dermatological response.  Oftentimes, infants who are fed citrus before the age of one year will break out in rashes around the mouth or bottom and possibly have tummy cramps.

A second example of a food intolerance is lactose intolerance.  People who are lactose intolerant lack a specific enzyme (lactase) that helps in the digestion of the sugar (lactose) in dairy products.  Infants are often able to digest the lactose in certain dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, since the culturing of these products breaks down the lactose.  In contrast with lactose intolerance in babies, cow’s milk protein allergy often affects young infants and usually resolves during the first year.  It can cause loose stools, gas and nausea. When it comes to food sensitivities, the most common “trigger foods” are:

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Citrus Fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, etc.)
  • Corn
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggs
  • Caffeine-containing products

If you suspect your child has sensitivities, your child’s provider can suggest strategies to help.  One approach is an “elimination diet,”  which removes all common trigger foods and replaces them with foods that heal the gut (such as sweet brown rice), before reintroducing the potential triggers one at a time.  A “rotation diet” is another alternative that can help to alleviate problems associated with food sensitivities in less time than an elimination diet. Another important food sensitivity-reducing strategy involves stress-management skills, such as mindful breathing and visualization.  Our intestines contain millions of nerve cells that can be impacted, both positively and negatively, by our emotions. Food sensitivities can be aggravated by stress.  School and family worries are leading sources of stress among children. If you suspect a sensitivity, it is helpful to keep a journal for your child that can be shared with a physician or health care provider.

Overeating

Eating smaller, more frequent meals, reduces the effects of your body’s gastrocolic reflex on your digestive system. This reflex stimulates colon contractions. When we eat large or fatty meals, the effects of this reflex are heightened, and thus could contribute to digestive upset regardless of what specific foods were eaten. In addition to making one fat, excessive eating can also overwhelm the body’s supply of beneficial digestive enzymes.  Without the necessary enzymes to break down large amounts of food, undigested proteins, starches and fats can accumulate in the large intestine and release toxins into the bloodstream.  Basically, too much food overwhelms the body’s ability to properly process nutrients and eliminate waste.

If you suspect emotional stress is contributing to overeating, look for patterns and learn about how relaxation techniques can help calm the digestive system, too.

The Importance of Liquid and Fiber

Liquids

The body needs proper hydration in order to function well.  The digestive tract can function more smoothly when the body receives an adequate amount of the right liquids.  Water, herbal teas and clear soup are ideal, as they add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass.  Drinks that contain caffeine, like many soft drinks, seem to have a dehydrating effect, however. Fizzy liquids, like soda, introduce a lot of air into the digestive system and can cause gas pain.  Pouring soda into a glass first can help release some of the gas before drinking.  Drinking from drinking fountains also introduces excess air and gas into one’s system, thus promoting flatulence.

Government guidelines indicate that children ages 1-3 require 4 ½ cups of fluid daily, ages 4-8 require 5 cups daily and 9-13 need 7 to 8 cups daily.  These amounts are minimums, however. If kids are very active, particularly outdoors and in hot weather, they may need double those amounts.  Dr. Fred Pascatore, author of Feed Your Kids Well, uses this rule of thumb: Follow the daily guidelines and, in addition, have your child take a drink break every half hour while engaged in physical play.

Fiber

Fiber is important to have in one’s diet.  It cleanses and keeps things moving smoothly through the digestive tract, preventing constipation and maintaining regularity.  It offers a long list of other health benefits as well.  It is essential to maintain good hydration levels in the body, so that fiber can keep the digestive tract in good working order.

Both children and adults eat too many refined and processed foods, which have had the natural fiber removed.  According to a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, constipation accounts for nearly half of all acute abdominal pain in children. The most common cause of constipation is a diet low in fiber.  A recent study shows that more than 50 percent of parents do not know how many grams of fiber children should consume daily, even though fiber is key to a child’s healthy body. Fiber plays a vital part in aiding digestion, promoting regularity and relieving constipation. In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) increased the recommended daily fiber intake standards considerably.  Here are the current guidelines:

AGE / GENDER FIBER (GRAMS) 
2-3 years 19
4-8 years 25
9-11 years (female) 26
9-11 years (male) 31

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is the part of fruits, vegetables and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and forms a gel-like texture in the intestine.   It is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts by bacteria in the digestive tract. It is found in foods such as oat bran, beans, peas and most fruits. Insoluble fiber (often called roughage) does not dissolve in water.  It passes virtually unchanged through the intestines and because it is not fermented in the colon, produces little gas.  Insoluble fiber’s bulking action helps to move waste through the digestive tract, shortening the transit time, so potentially harmful substances are moved through more quickly. It is found in wheat bran and some vegetables.

Advantages of consuming fiber are the production of healthful compounds during the fermentation of soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber’s ability to increase bulk, soften stool, and shorten transit time through the intestinal tract. Fiber adds bulk and acts like a broom to help food travel smoothly through the digestive system, rather than getting stuck.  It gives the muscles something to squeeze as they pull food particles and waste through the system.  Fiber’s bulk also keeps food up against the walls of the intestines to increase the body’s ability to absorb digested nutrients.

Some people complain that adding fiber to one’s diet causes gas.  Adding too much, too fast can certainly cause digestive discomfort. It is best to increase fiber intake slowly, over a period of weeks, to allow one’s body to adjust.  When fiber is increased, water must be increased to avoid constipation.  It is best to get fiber from foods, but supplements are also available.  Always check with your doctor and follow supplement directions, if choosing that option.

Nerves

Overstimulation and stress can also lead to increased gassiness. Just as many adults experience intestinal disturbances in stressful situations, so are children affected by their environments. Sensitive children often experience more severe gas, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping later in the day or night. In general, the more activity (daycare/school, errands, visitors, TV, phones, etc.) in a child’s day, the higher the chances of gassiness and fussiness in the child’s evening and night.

The brain-gut axis connects nerves in the stomach to the brain so that stomachs react when one is scared or excited.  Some kids have a heightened brain-intestine connection and are particularly susceptible to stomach upset from stress.  Some children may even have such sensitive intestines that they spasm in response to certain foods and stress.

Restlessness

Any form of upset in a child’s digestive or nervous system  can make it more difficult for a child  to sleep…likewise for concerned parents.

When to Seek Medical Care

Seek medical attention whenever symptoms occur that you suspect may indicate a more serious condition than common upset stomach, gas pain and bloating.  If pain is severe enough to make your child cry for more than 20 minutes and you cannot distract him or her, contact your pediatrician promptly.

Child and Mom Embrace

Treatment

While grown-ups often complain of headaches, children get a lot of stomachaches. Tummy aches may be all too common in children these days, but they no longer have to be. A good place to start, especially for children, is with natural remedies and supplements that strengthen the body’s abilities to self-heal.  Therapies like deep breathing, visualization and even hypnosis, and good old exercise, have all proven helpful as well.

Homeopathy

For many parents, homeopathic medicine is their first choice for treating children, due to the long safety record and absence of side effects. Homeopathic medicines comply with similar regulatory processes for safety and efficacy as regular pharmaceuticals. However, unlike pharmaceuticals, homeopathic medicines are made from natural ingredients having a safety track record as old as 200 years or more, as documented in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS).
Because such minute doses of medicinal substances are involved, homeopathic medicines are extremely safe, carrying no risk of side effects, and are non-addictive. Even if one takes the wrong remedy for the wrong condition, it will do no harm. This makes homeopathic remedies especially well-suited for babies and children. Because of their inherent safety, they are frequently used for treatment of self-diagnosable conditions. They provide a natural and affordable alternative to over-the-counter conventional drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Passing gas is indeed an essential and inevitable human function.  When gas is not easily released and builds up in the digestive tract, it can cause debilitating cramping and pain, as most adults know.  Tummy Calm has the unique ability to quickly and safely adsorb painful gas bubbles and toxins and render them harmless, thanks in large part to the pharmaceutical grade carbo vegetabilis (activated charcoal).  This special form of carbon in Tummy Calm has the amazing ability to, much like a magnet, attract gases and bacteria that cause gas to its surface and hold them, thereby gently eliminating the very source of the problem. Medical research has discovered that activated charcoal is so effective both chemically and physically because of its electrical charge and the thousands of microscopic tunnels created by the process used to make it.  Studies have proven how effective it is at reducing even intestinal gas. (put link here to studies) The activated charcoal is in no way absorbed, metabolized or digested by the body.  In fact, it is one of the finest natural adsorbent agents known and recognized by the FDA.  Activated charcoal has been used by physicians and natural healers around the world for centuries.  It is used in hospitals everywhere.

Tummy Calm combines fast-acting, yet gentle carbo vegetabilis (activated charcoal) with 8 other homeopathic soothers, specially selected for children’s bodies.  It works by safely and gently stimulating little bodies’ abilities to self-heal, as opposed to suppressing symptoms. Nature has provided us with the safest and most effective remedies, all of which have individually proven themselves valuable over the past centuries.  It is Tummy Calm’s unique synergistic combination that makes it even more wondrous.

Until Tummy Calm recently came on the market, following the nine-year success of Colic Calm, the usual first recourse for gas has been simethicone.  It is sold under several brand names in drug stores and is usually marked “Gas Drops,” primarily intended for infants. Simethicone is essentially a synthetic chemical foaming agent that joins gas bubbles in the stomach on the theory that gas can be more easily burped away. However, if the larger clusters of bubbles are not burped up quickly enough, they pass into the lower digestive tract. Here, the larger gas bubble clusters can cause more painful distention and cramping. Simethicone admittedly has no effect on intestinal gas, which as many adults know, can cause the most intense pain. Since simethicone works by joining gas bubbles, it must be where the gas is, in order to work. As a result, simethicone is not an “as needed” medicine, but rather one that must be given in regular doses with every meal. If gas has been created other than by eating or drinking, simethicone will have no effect after the gassiness appears. Simethicone will work only on gas near the top of the stomach and has no effect on intestinal gas. Several studies show that it works no better than a placebo.

Over-the-counter antacids are also available for children over 2 years of age, but like simethicone, can be considered another band-aid approach.  Antacids alter the pH of stomach acid which is naturally created in a child’s stomach, making it more alkaline.  Stomach acid is essential in properly absorbing nutrients and fighting infections. Antacids can, however, temporarily relieve some digestive discomforts. Unfortunately, sodium bicarbonate is absorbed into the bloodstream and can have unwanted side effects. According to some doctors, antacids can cause an imbalance in babies’ electrolytes which can lead to serious problems. Even for adults, it should not be used for more than 2 weeks or for recurring conditions.

Probiotics

Probiotic Supplementation for Infants

Proper digestion, absorption, elimination and immune response all depend on a healthy balance of bacterial flora in the bowels. Probiotics contain the friendly bacteria that live in the intestinal tract and have been shown to improve digestion and decrease gas and bloating. Lactobacillus acidophilus provides the bowel with friendly intestinal flora, which eases digestion. A breastfeeding mother should take ½ teaspoon, twice a day.  A bottle-fed baby should have 1/8 teaspoon of acidophilus powder dissolved in formula, twice daily.  Acidophilus is available in powder and chewable form at health food stores.  Follow instructions on products for various age ranges.  Many flavors and kinds of yogurt and kefir with active cultures are now readily available to appeal to most kids. Acidophilus can help counter candida (yeast overgrowth) and the gas that candida creates with a diet high in sugar.  Acidophilus is also helpful for those who have lactose intolerance, a common cause of chronic excessive gas and bloating.

Lactobacillus bifidus are other friendly bacteria that help improve digestion.  Some experts believe it is even more effective than acidophilus in infants.  The recommended amount for a nursing mother is one dose, twice a day. A bottle-fed baby can take 1/8 teaspoon dissolved in formula, twice a day.

Probiotic Supplements for Kids

Anyone who has been put on a course of powerful antibiotics is probably aware of the havoc caused to one’s digestive system as the medication kicks in and does its job. Not only are the bacteria that are causing the infection targeted for a concentrated attack – other friendly, benign bacteria, which help digestion by converting food to nutrients and energy, also come into harm’s way. The result can be extremely unpleasant for the patient, and the more powerful the antibiotic, the more prolonged and severe its effects can be on the gastric tract.

Many physicians have long been aware of this and will often recommend that their patients start taking a readily available probiotic, such as lactobaccillus acidophilus, lactobacillus reuteri and bifidobacterium infantis. This helps restore intestinal flora and bring the stomach’s natural balance of bacteria and enzymes back to normal as quickly as possible.  Administering probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, has been shown to replenish the good bacteria needed for digestion and immunity. Certainly there has been a movement within the health food industry to emphasize the positive qualities of products such as yogurts containing additional probiotic cultures. Probiotics seem effective in helping promote the build-up of benevolent gut flora to a level where the right balance is achieved. But it must be stressed that after a round of antibiotics, probiotics need time to take effect fully in the replenishment of the necessary gut flora – a month or more is now the general consensus.

If one’s diet consists of too many calories and too much junk food, as is the case with a growing number of American children, undesirable events take place in the digestive tract.  The good bacterial flora require fiber, and not too much sugar, to thrive in the intestines. Too much sugar in one’s diet can lead to candida (a type of yeast) overgrowth and other pathogens. Yeast overgrowth can cause a lot of gas as well.

Enzymes

Enzymes help the body digest a wide variety of potential gas-forming foods.  In the past, the average American diet contained plenty of raw foods, which helped to re-supply the digestive system with enzymes.  Today, however, most of our foods are cooked or heavily processed, depleting beneficial enzymes.  Over time, this can cause an array of health problems.  Enzyme-rich foods, such as a slice or two of pineapple or papaya, can also help.  They improve and speed up the digestive process.  Fairly rapid transit time results in reduced risk of gas pains and bloating.

Digestive enzyme supplements are available at health food stores and some grocery stores. Ask for help in selecting those that are intended for children. They actually help digest carbohydrates and may allow foods that normally cause gas to be eaten.

The enzyme lactase, which aids with lactose digestion, is available in liquid and tablet form (e.g., Dairy Ease, Lactaid). A few drops of liquid lactase added to milk before drinking it or chewing lactase tablets just before eating products containing lactose  helps in digesting them. Also, lactose-reduced milk and other products are available at many grocery stores and health food stores.

Exercise

Engaging in moderate exercise activities such as walking, jogging, dance and yoga have been shown to dispel gas and decrease bloating. So keep kids moving, as nature intended!  The overall health benefits are bountiful.

Massage

Many moms have discovered that a light tummy massage can often help move stubborn trapped gas out of the intestines.

Emotional Stress Release

Because of the complex pathways connecting the brain and the intestines, it is important for children to learn to cope with stress.  The following have proven helpful in studies:

  • Deep-breathing techniques are easy for children to learn and help them to relax and focus on the present.  They can be done almost any time and any place. Try simple deep breathing exercises to calm the body and reduce the body’s response to stress.
  • Visualization is another simple, quick, and easy relaxation technique. Visualizing a beautiful relaxed setting and enjoyable activity whenever needed can be a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and the body’s stress response.

A good book to read is “The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids: Help for Children to Cope with Stress, Anxiety, and Transitions” by Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D or read our article on relaxation techniques for kids.

Note: Some medications, prescription and over-the-counter, can interfere with bowel activity. Antihistamines and antibiotics are great contributors to gastrointestinal problems, including gas, as they destroy the beneficial bacteria in the intestine.  Drug residues can settle in the tissues of the bowel and continue to cause disturbances.

Review of Tips to Prevent and Reduce Gas in Children:

  1. Cut down on foods that cause gas
  2. Drink plenty of water, non-“fizzy” liquids and clear soups
  3. Reduce the amount of air you swallow by eating more slowly and chewing well
  4. Avoid chewing gum, sucking on hard candy and drinking from drinking fountains
  5. Exercise often
  6. Fiber keeps things moving along
  7. Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge, don’t avoid restroom
  8. Learn relaxation techniques like deep breathing and visualization
  9. Keep a Journal

Write down the foods and the amounts that seem to cause you the most problems.  Also, keep track of the number of times you pass gas.

  • Keep Tummy Calm handy for times needed.  Even if one indulges, there is no longer a need to suffer from the resulting gas, cramps and bloating.

If you are still troubled by gas, this could indicate a more serious health concern and should be brought to the attention of your doctor. Take your journal with you to help answer the doctor’s questions about eating habits and symptoms.

References:

  1. Parents Magazine: My Stomach Hurts: Common Causes and Cures for Tummy Trouble, Daryn Eller, October 2008
  2. National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC): Gas in the Digestive Tract, NIH Publication No. 08–883, January 2008
  3. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand, N.D., L.Ac., Robert Rountree, M.D. and Rachel Walton, MSN, CRNP.
  4. Journal Clin Gastro 2004 Jul;38 (6 Suppl):S102-3
  5. Amer Jrnl Gastro, 2006 Nov;101 (11):2552-7
  6. Contemporary Pediatrics, March 2012, pp. 22-3
  7. Norton, W. Controlling Intestinal Gas, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.
  8. Simethicone Is No More Efficacious Than Placebo for Infant Colic; Leena Dev, M.D. Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan
  9. Therapeutic use of simethicone in gastroenterology; Dr. M. Steuerwald
  10. Effect of a simethicone-containing tablet on colonic gas elimination in breath; Dr. Lifschitz, Dr. Irving and Dr. Smith.