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11 Ways to Relieve Bloating Fast

Here’s how to get help ASAP


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Have you ever felt so inflated after a meal that you’d do just about anything to find relief? A swollen, bloated abdomen can make your whole body feel heavy and weigh down your mood. While there are many smart strategies for preventing bloating, sometimes it happens, and you just want to feel better fast.

What causes bloating?

You might have noticed that your midsection is blowing up more often. Among the reasons that bloating occurs, one important factor is age. “Seniors are predisposed to digestive issues due to diet, lack of activity and insufficient digestive enzymes," explains Sherry Torkos, author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. “Drugs that cause side effects of slowing gastric motility further exacerbate this,” she adds.

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Uncomfortable bloat could come from several issues, or a combination of them, including a lack of fiber in your diet, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a food intolerance or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or a serious condition such as colon cancer. Assuming you’ve gotten the clear from a colonoscopy — recommended starting at age 45 — it is likely that your symptoms come from constipation, one of the main reasons many people experience gas and bloating.

There are also many foods that can trigger bloating. Dairy products, broccoli, beans, lentils and other high-fiber foods, artificial sweeteners and carbonated drinks are just a few examples.

Bloating is a common symptom, says Amy Bragagnini, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But that doesn’t mean there are always common roads to relief. Finding the right way to relief is personal, she says; “what works for one might not work for another.”

Which anti-bloat tips work best for you?

It is important to have a few strategies to relieve gas and bloating and improve digestion. What’s more, helping yourself find a successful solution can be especially gratifying. “I teach breathing and mindfulness to patients to help regulate the brain-gut connection,” says Suzanne Smith, a nurse practitioner who works alongside gastroenterologists and dietitians within UCLA’s Integrative Digestive Health & Wellness program. She explains that these are “supportive measures that can offer empowerment to the patient in real time.” When we feel a sense of control over something, our nervous systems relax, she says.

Here are 11 ways that can help relieve bloating.

1. Take a walk

A few minutes of low-impact exercise, like walking, can help your body digest and expel extra air, Torkos explains. Walking helps to strengthen muscles in the gut and stimulates the movement of waste through the colon. You don't need to exercise for long — a 10- to 15-minute walk is sufficient, Smith adds. A study published in Gastroenterology and Hepatology From Bed to Bench concluded that short-term physical activity could be effective in relieving abdominal bloating symptoms.

2. Try diaphragmatic breathing

Smith explains that this time-tested self-help tool is her go-to for relief of patients’ bloating-related tension. When people feel bloated, she says, there’s a fullness in the abdominal area that might cause them to breathe shallowly, and not breathe from the diaphragm. To facilitate diaphragmatic breathing, it’s helpful to slow down your breathing. You can place a hand over your middle to feel the abdomen move up and down, which means you are breathing from the diaphragm, she says. Smith’s popular (free) video demonstration of deep breathing is available on YouTube.

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Diaphragmatic breathing slows the heart rate, increasing parasympathetic activity and activating the “rest and digest” nervous system. This increases involuntary contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine (peristalsis), relaxes the body and helps damp down the perception of signals from the gut, she says.

3. Strike a pose

The position of your midsection can help or hinder peristalsis. For relief, try the yoga pose called Child’s Pose. Begin by kneeling on the floor, Next, lean forward, keeping your butt on your heels, and rest your forehead on the floor, with your arms by your sides on the floor, palms facing the ceiling. Hold the pose for 8-10 deep breaths. “By putting your torso forward, and relaxing, you can help move things along,” Smith says. Here is an AARP video demonstration of how to do Child’s Pose.

Happy Baby pose is another option: Lie on your back and bend your knees to your chest, with the bottoms of your feet facing the ceiling. Grab the bottom of your left foot, or left ankle, with your left hand, and hold your right foot or ankle with the other. Hold position for 6-8 deep breaths.

4. Seek warmth

Try placing a hot-water bottle or compress on your belly as you lie on your back. Alternatively, take a warm bath. Relaxation can lead to relief, according to Smith.

5. Massage your middle

Lying on your back, give yourself a gentle abdominal massage to help increase peristalsis, suggests Smith. Trace your colon with your hands. Starting on the right side, massage across, under the ribs, and then down the left side, and over the middle. Slow breathing may enhance the exercise.

For visual inspiration, check out physical therapist Laura Baker’s abdominal massage video.

6. Drink hot chamomile or ginger tea

Certain herbs deliver carminative (gas-relieving) properties that can help expel gas. Chamomile is medicinal herb and antioxidant that has long been considered a nerve-calmer as well as a digestive relaxant. 

Ginger can be beneficial as well, according to the experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who say that eating it can help cut down on many causes of gas and bloating. 

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7. Let go

If you are nervous because there are people around you, such as coworkers, you may be too tense to allow your body to expel gas. But holding in gas may increase tension and abdominal pain. Walk away as soon as you can; a change of scenery may help you relax. If you are worried about a foul odor, consider using a flatulence deodorizer pad, Torkos says. These reusable cloth pads made of activated charcoal help to neutralize the smell of gas. They are inserted into your underwear and stay in place with two-sided tape.

8. Try peppermint oil capsules

Peppermint oil comes in small capsules with coating that helps avoid heartburn and delay their digestion. Peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that can help muscles relax, according to UCLA gastroenterologist Didi Mwengela, M.D. Don’t use peppermint if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive issue that the herb can worsen.

9. Use a drugstore solution

Over-the-counter antacids that contain simethicone, such as Alka-Seltzer Heartburn + Gas Relief or Gas-X, can help your body break down and reduce trapped gas. Mwengela warns to be mindful of the manufacturer’s instructions and use as directed. And see a doctor if symptoms persist. These products are not long-term solutions.

10. Check your meds

Just started taking a new-to-you medication? The unfamiliar drug may be behind your bloat. Constipation-related gas and bloating is a side effect of many medications. Work with your doctor to figure out if the medication, the dose or the way you take it is causing constipation, gas or bloating. It may be a temporary side effect. Note: Do not adjust or stop any medication without consulting your doctor.

11. See a gastroenterologist

Depending on the cause, and your individual case, a gastroenterologist (GI) should be able to help you ease the severity of the bloating that you are experiencing.  These doctors specialize in digestive disorders and use prescription medications such as antibiotics, antispasmodics and neuromodulators to help treat symptoms and underlying conditions. According to Mwengela, there is a very good chance that a GI can help you improve your health and feel much better. The American College of Gastroenterology offers an online tool to help you locate a GI doctor near you.

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