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An antiflatulent is a substance which reduces gas production in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates expression of gas so that it cannot build up and cause discomfort. Some prescriptions have antiflatulent effects and there are a number of over the counter preparations which can be used to address flatulence. People with chronic gas problems may want to discuss alleviation of gas with a doctor to see if there is an underlying medical issue behind the gas production.
Some anti-gas agents work by breaking food down before it enters the intestines to reduce the number of bacteria which cause gas in the intestine. Sometimes people do not digest food efficiently, and this attracts anaerobic bacteria, which produce gas as a byproduct of their digestive processes. Other people have naturally higher numbers of these bacteria which lead to an increase in gas production.
Other antiflatulents work by breaking the gas up into smaller bubbles so that it can be passed more easily. People who experience bloating because of gas may find these medications helpful. These drugs will not reduce the amount of intestinal gas produced and passed, but they can make patients more comfortable.
One antiflatulent is simethicone, which pulls gas bubbles together so they are easier to pass. Historically, charcoal preparations were sometimes prescribed to patients to address gas. It is also possible to purchase enzymatic preparations with enzymes like lactase, which will promote more efficient digestion and cut down on gas production. Several spices, such as cinnamon, garlic, and asafoetida, have been linked with reduced gas production. These spices, like enzyme supplements, need to be eaten with food to generate a gas reduction.
Some pharmacies and health food stores sell herbal preparations which are supposed to address flatulence. Some of these antiflatulent preparations are effective, while others are less so. People who are interested in using herbal preparations should check the ingredient list and consult their physicians to determine if a preparation is appropriate and likely to be effective.
Chronic gas can be a sign of a gastrointestinal problem, and for patients who have had surgery or other procedures in the intestines, gas can be a cause for concern. Someone who experiences gas should discuss it with a doctor. The doctor can evaluate the patient to determine whether or not the gas is a sign of a problem. If it is, diagnostic tests can be performed for the purpose of determining the cause and developing a treatment plan. If there is no problem, the doctor may have recommendations for antiflatulent agents which might be effective.