Monday, February 4, 2008

Avoiding Flatulence and Belching on the Plane and In Other Public Places

First of all, as a frequent-flier, I want to thank you for taking time to read this article.

If gassiness is an issue for you, a little planning ahead can help you avoid embarrassment on the plane.

The familiar standby for flatulence is Pepto-Bismol. If you have colitis, Crohn's disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), your symptoms won't really be kept in check by Pepto-Bismol, but the "pink" (bismuth salicylate) in the Pepto-Bismol at least binds hydrogen sulfide so gas isn't smelly. You shouldn't use Pepto-Bismol if you're sensitive to aspirin. I

f you can't use Pepto-Bismol, an activated charcoal product may be helpful, but ask your pharmacist if you're taking a drug like Zetia for cholesterol or if you are taking Alli to help lose weight. Either product interacts with charcoal.

And some other ways to avoid loud farts in public places include:

Don't use a straw for drinking liquids, especially carbonated beverages or mineral water. The extra air you swallow comes out as gas.

Avoid "sugar-free" chewing gums sweetened with sorbitol or xylitol. These sugar-substitutes don't provide any immediately absorbable carbs or calories, but they do feed the fermentative bacteria living on your intestinal wall (and especially the bacteria you get from probiotic yogurt products like Activia).

For belchers who don't have acid reflux, it's a good idea to start a meal with something bitter, the bitterer, the better.

Bitter foods trigger a neurogastic reflex that releases stomach acid. This digests food more thoroughly and cuts down on fermentation.

And if you start a meal with something bitter, finish your meal with something minty. Peppermint oils in tea or candy (but not sugar-free) calm your stomach to prevent belching and gas.

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