Gas and Bloating in Children: Care Instructions

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The digestive system


Gas and bloating can be uncomfortable and embarrassing problems. All people pass gas, but some people produce more gas than others, sometimes enough to cause distress. It is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times a day. Excess gas usually is not caused by a serious health problem.

Gas and bloating usually are caused by something your child eats or drinks, including some food supplements and medicines.

Gas and bloating are usually harmless and go away without treatment. But changing your child's diet can help end the problem. Some over-the-counter medicines can help prevent gas and relieve bloating.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Keep a food diary if you think a food gives your child gas. Write down what your child eats or drinks. Also record when your child gets gas. If you notice that a food seems to cause gas each time, avoid it and see if the gas goes away. Examples of foods that cause gas include:
    • Fried and fatty foods.
    • Peas, lentils, and beans.
    • Vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, radishes, and raw potatoes.
    • Fruits such as apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, prunes, and raw apples.
    • Wheat and wheat bran.
    • Carbonated drinks and fruit drinks.
    • Packaged foods that contain lactose, such as breads, cereal, and salad dressing.
    • Sugar and sugar substitutes.
  • Try soaking beans in water overnight. Drain the soaking water, and cook the soaked beans in new water. This may help decrease gas and bloating.
  • If your child has problems with lactose, avoid dairy products such as milk and cheese.
  • Help your child try not to swallow air. Make sure that your child does not drink through a straw, gulp food, or chew gum.
  • Give your child an over-the-counter medicine. But check with your doctor first if your child is under 12. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Food enzymes, such as Beano, can be added to gas-producing foods to prevent gas.
    • Antacids, such as Maalox Anti-Gas and Mylanta Gas, can relieve bloating by making your child burp. Be careful when you give your child over-the-counter antacid medicines. Many of these medicines have aspirin in them. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
    • Activated charcoal tablets, such as CharcoCaps, may decrease odor from gas your child passes.
    • If your child has problems with lactose, you can give your child medicines such as Dairy Ease and Lactaid with dairy products to prevent gas and bloating.
  • Have your child get some exercise regularly.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has severe belly pain.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is having trouble swallowing.
  • Your child has blood in the stool.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.