How to Deal With Gas and Bloating Related to IBD

Many people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also find that they have symptoms of abdominal bloating or distention. One cause of this uncomfortable problem may be gas in the digestive tract.

Bloated woman
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Bloating and gas can be painful, embarrassing, and might limit your wardrobe choices to pants and skirts with elastic waistbands. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with a bloated stomach.


Bloating in the abdomen is commonly caused by gas in the intestines. One reason for too much gas is from eating foods that create gas.

Air Swallowing

Swallowing air while eating is often done unconsciously and may result in frequent belching during or after meals. To avoid swallowing air, slow down when eating, don't slurp drinks, and don't talk while chewing. Also try to avoid chewing gum, eating hard candy, drinking carbonated beverages, and drinking liquids through straws.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that may also contribute to abdominal bloating. Many people are unable to digest lactose, which is the sugar that is found in cow's milk. This condition is more common in adults, but some children (especially those over the age of 2) may also be found to be lactose intolerant.

Interestingly, lactose intolerance is different than a true milk allergy. Avoiding cow's milk and foods made with milk, such as ice cream or cheese, can help avoid the problem. But, this is not always practical or desirable. Today, several products are available that are lactose-free or can help lactose-intolerant people digest the lactose that is found in milk products.

Uncommon Causes

If the abdomen is tender to the touch or hard, contact your physician to make sure that there is not some other underlying cause for the bloating. Although uncommon, bloating can also be caused by more serious conditions. Persistent, progressive, or severe bloating (especially when accompanied by other symptoms and an increase in abdominal girth) should be checked out by a doctor right away.


The ultimate goal is to prevent bloating from occurring in the first place. But once the problem is already present, there are a few ways to treat it, including over-the-counter (OTC) products:

  • Heat: A heating pad placed on the abdomen (don't use it for too long or fall asleep with it on) or a hot bath may ease abdominal discomfort.
  • Beano: Taking the supplement Beano when eating beans or legumes may help reduce the gas that is caused while digesting those foods. 
  • Exercise: To expel troublesome intestinal gas, try taking a brisk walk or getting some other form of exercise that gets the body moving. Frequent exercise can help keep the intestines working more efficiently and aids with digestion.
  • Positioning: If exercise fails, try laying quietly on your left side on a bed, couch, or floor and bring your knees up to your chest. This position, or a few other movements such as squatting, can sometimes help release trapped gas.
  • OTC anti-gas remedies: These often contain polyethylene glycol or simethicone. Check with a doctor before trying one—while they may be effective, make sure to read all the ingredients. Some brands contain sorbitol, a food additive that can irritate the digestive tract and cause diarrhea, cramps, and pain.


The best way to prevent gas that is caused by foods is—predictably—to avoid those foods that contribute to intestinal gas. Many people have an idea of what foods might cause gas (like beans) but might not know about some very common foods that can also contribute to gas. 

Avoiding one or two foods because they cause gas, bloating, and pain shouldn't be too much of a problem. But, any drastic change in diet should only be done after consulting a physician and a dietitian if possible. Every person is affected by foods differently, but some foods that commonly cause gas are:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Fructose (fruit sugar)
  • Lactose
  • Potatoes
  • Sorbitol
  • Wheat
4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nóbrega VG, Silva INN, Brito BS, Silva J, Silva MCMD, Santana GO. The onset of clinical manifestations in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Arq Gastroenterol. 2018;55(3):290-295. doi:10.1590/S0004-2803.201800000-73

  2. Di rienzo T, D'angelo G, D'aversa F, et al. Lactose intolerance: From diagnosis to correct management. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013;17 Suppl 2:18-25.

  3. Cuda T, Gunnarsson R, De costa A. Symptoms and diagnostic criteria of acquired megacolon - a systematic literature review. BMC Gastroenterol. 2018;18(1):25. doi:10.1186/s12876-018-0753-7

  4. Azpiroz F, Hernandez C, Guyonnet D, et al. Effect of a low-flatulogenic diet in patients with flatulence and functional digestive symptoms. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014;26(6):779-85. doi:10.1111/nmo.12324

Additional Reading
  • Azpiroz F. Understanding Intestinal Gas. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc. 19 Mar 2015.
  • National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2 Jan 2013.

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.