Gases – an embarrassing subject that hardly anyone wants to talk about. Even though it’s an inevitable part of the digestion process and every single person has to deal with gases at some point, we still don’t feel comfortable to discuss it even with our doctor. This common subject of many jokes is no laughing matter when it turns into an everyday problem and leads to pain. Not everyone knows that while it’s normally associated with the abdominal area, gas pain may also cause serious discomfort in the chest.
Doctors often deal with patients that report recurrent pains in the chest area. Many of those patients are convinced that they suffer from a heart condition. They get confused and surprised when the doctor asks them if they have problems with excess gases. Thankfully, the majority of patients that hear the diagnosis – gas pain in chest – can go back home without any medication prescribed, since the best way to alleviate this kind of pain are natural, home remedies and appropriate exercise.
What causes gas pain in chest?
Excess gas may directly or indirectly cause pain in the chest. The occurrence of gas pain in this area doesn’t always mean that it’s literally trapped in the thorax. Gases accumulate in the abdominal region and as they build up, they start pressing on internal organs. That is why the pain that they cause does not occur always in the same place, often being mistaken for various health conditions, like appendicitis, liver malfunction or even a heart attack.
Gas can be trapped in the chest when it gets artificially introduced into the abdominal area, e.g. during a laparoscopy surgery. In order to have access to certain organs, surgeons insert carbon dioxide through a small cut in the skin of the patient. This allows them to reach the areas they operate on. Some of the carbon dioxide gets released immediately after the surgery, but it may take up to 24 hours for the remaining gas to pass naturally. Some of it, unfortunately, can get trapped in chest and cause serious discomfort.
Malfunction of digestive system
If you haven’t just recently had a surgery, but you suffer from trapped gas, the reason is probably in your digestive system. The formation of gases takes place in the colon and is the result of the fermentation of the carbohydrates. This mostly happens when we consume products that are high in fibre. The more vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grain foods you eat, the more you will be prone to excess gases.
That doesn’t mean, obviously, that we should avoid this type of food. Fibre is known for its beneficiary influence on the digestive tract since it helps control the levels of cholesterol and sugar in blood. It also removes toxins from our bodies. In order to avoid gas build-up when you follow a high-fibre diet, you should make sure you increase your intake of fluids.
Avoid drinking gas
Among other common reasons of gas build up are: drinking carbonated beverages, intolerance of certain types of gluten or simply swallowing air while you smoke a cigarette or eat too fast. A combination of excess gas with constipation that causes bloating and impairs the passage of gases may result in gas pains that occur not only in the abdomen but also in the chest area.
How to recognize gas pain in chest?
As we mentioned before, the symptoms of gas pain may be misleading. That is why you should observe your body closely so that you do not overreact in case of a sudden pain. First and foremost, remember that not every stabbing pain and tightness in chest means a heart attack. If you are not simultaneously experiencing a pain radiating into the left arm, you’re more than likely suffering from a gas pain. Sharp pain in the abdominal area can be a symptom of many health problems, but indigestion is claimed to be the most common cause. Before you rush to the doctor, try to alleviate the symptoms by using some of the home remedies we describe below.
Home remedies for gas pain in chest
Not Always Coca-Cola
It’s no secret that carbonated beverages are far from healthy due to the extremely high level of sugar they contain. But have you ever thought about the amount of gas you swallow just in one can of soda or a small beer? While one drink with bubbles every now and then won’t hurt, a regular consumption of beer, coke etc. has a huge impact on your body. If you suffer from chest and abdominal pains that may be related to excess gas, just try to exclude the carbonated drinks from your menu for a week. A major shift in health guaranteed.
Drink a lot of water
It may seem like there is no need to remind anyone about the importance of keeping the body hydrated. Yet, we will leave a kind reminder one more time. In order to allow all the organs work properly, you need to drink between 1,5 and 2 litres of liquids a day, preferably water. An increased intake of liquids assures an easier digestion of fibres, which – as we mentioned above – cause the formation of gases when they reach the colon undigested. By drinking plenty of water you also reduce constipation and facilitate the elimination of toxins from your body, including the ones accumulated in your digestive tract.
Five O’Clock Medicine
A cup of hot tea can do miracles and has become one of the most common remedies for various everyday ailments. It can also provide a relief from gas pain in chest and abdomen. The most recommended types of teas in this case are the ones made of peppermint, chamomile or fennel. All of them reduce the feeling of bloating due to their anti-flatulent properties. Find a flavour that appeals to your taste buds and make it a routine to drink at least one cup of hot herbal tea a day.
Fans of green tea can reach for their favorite hot drink and improve its power to reduce abdominal gases by adding half teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey. If you tend to suffer from gas pains, drink this preparation twice a day and you will feel a significant relief.
Go back to the roots
Ginger is like gold in the world of vegetables. It is used not only in the kitchen but also in cosmetology and medicine. You can use it to solve the problem of gas pain, too. No matter in what form you will consume it, the positive results are guaranteed. You can cut the ginger root in small pieces and simply eat it or you can pour hot water over thinly sliced quarter of a ginger root and leave it for 10 minutes to strain. Adding a piece of ginger to your fresh fruit and vegetable juice will not only improve its properties, but also the taste.
Pharmacy in the kitchen
Various spices have been proven to aid the digestion, the most popular among them being turmeric, cumin, cardamom and coriander. Try to incorporate them in the dishes you like or look for some inspiration on the internet. Remember that the more regularly you add these spices to your food, the less frequently you will have to deal with gas pain in chest and abdomen.
For dessert you can serve some sweet and juicy papaya, widely known not only for its wonderful flavour and soft texture but also for its properties which help prevent the build-up of gas in the intestines. You can make a fruit salad with papaya, pineapple and strawberries or simply serve it on its own.
A greatly underestimated ingredient that all of us have in the kitchen is apple cider vinegar. Research shows that drinking 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar each day gives a boost to the immunity system and helps maintain general good health. It is probably the most effective home medicine you can drink when you need an instant relief from gas pain in chest. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water. Drink it, lie down and relax. After 5-10 minutes you will definitely fell a relief of symptoms. If you are not a big fan of vinegar and it tastes too strong for you, think of it as a medicine and you won’t mind the flavor any more.
If drinking vinegar is not your thing at all, try mixing a few teaspoons of baking soda in a cup of warm water. Baking soda has many different properties and it is used for various purposes, some of which have nothing to do with baking. One of them is reducing the flatulence. Try it if you look for a quick relief from gas pain.
If you constantly feel bloated and your table regularly features dairy products, like eggs, cheese and milk, you might have to revise your menu. A lot of people suffer from an intolerance of dairy products. Unless they make effort to eliminate them from the diet or at least reduce their intake, their problem of excess gases not only will not decrease but even grow in time. Dairy elimination doesn’t have to be sudden and radical. If, for example you drink a lot of milk, try replacing it with soy or almond milk. Both of them are available in every supermarket and are relatively inexpensive. Both soy and almond milk are more gentle to your stomach and will add a lightly sweet flavor to your coffee.
Move It, Move It
Once you’ve tried to alleviate gas pain by drinking your herbal tea and eating your curry with cardamom, it’s time to apply a bit of movement. If the pain is too strong to for you to do any kind of exercise, then just try to lie down in bed on your left side and rest in this position until you feel that the discomfort has been reduced.
If you are able to do some basic movements, lie down in bed or on the floor and press your both legs against the stomach. Repeat the exercise slowly several times until you feel relief from the gas pain. Every time you press your legs against the chest, breathe the air in, then raise the legs slightly and breathe out, allowing the gases pass naturally out of your body.
Other light and basic exercises you can do in bed are cycling the legs in the air and scissoring the legs back and forth. Both of these exercises help ease the gas pain in the abdomen and in the chest. They also improve the circulation and stimulate the digestion processes.
Some very simple exercises like walking 15-30 minutes three times a week can significantly improve your overall health and help solve the problem of excessive gases and pains related to it. Even the slightest exercise stimulates the production of endorphins – called the hormone of happiness – which does wonders for both our emotional and physical health.
When should i see the doctor?
If you’ve tried all the home remedies described above, including exercise, but the pain persists, you should definitely consult your doctor. Temporary pains that occur in various locations around chest and abdomen normally aren’t symptoms of any serious health condition. However, a recurring or lasting pain in the same area should be checked by the doctor so that he can exclude the risk of a hernia, appendicitis, gallstones or reflux. He might also have to perform some food allergy tests to determine which products are not tolerated by your digestive system. This way you will get to know the culprits of the excess gases in your abdomen and after you exclude the unwanted ingredients from your diet, you will be able to forget about gas pains once for all.