Stomach Gas Pain at Night Causes and Treatment
Abdominal gas is encountered by everyone and often at numerous intervals throughout the day. It is a natural byproduct of digestion where gas is produced by the breakdown of the foods we eat. Sometimes it is created when too much air is taken in and swallowed such as when smoking, using straws or eating too quickly. Other times, it can be a result of eating foods that are notorious for producing excess gas like those high in fiber. Most of the time, abdominal gas makes it way out of the body via a burp or worse. But, sometimes, this gas can become trapped inside the digestive tract. This can lead to stomach gas pain varying from dull and mild to intense.
The stomach pain associated with gas can be tremendously debilitating. Some describe it as intense or stabbing pain the abdomen. Usually, stomach gas pain is accompanied by a sense of fullness and pressure as well. Sometimes relief from the pain of built up stomach gas can be had by belching, having a bowel movement or breaking wind. Most often, gas occurs during times related to meals. It can be encountered during or after eating. But, for some people, painful stomach bloating and gas are more common at night, and can make falling asleep difficult.
One of the most common causes of stomach gas pain at night is the dreaded midnight snack. Indigestion symptoms can include an onslaught of increased gas production and when indigestion strikes as the result of a late night munch fest, the result can be bedtime gassiness. Other signs of indigestion are bloating and cramping and, when combined with the pressure and fullness that can accompany a gas filled gut, the discomfort can make falling asleep challenging. Stomach gas pain is one of the most common symptoms of indigestion, and therefore not eating right before bed and avoiding foods that can trigger indigestion symptoms before time for sleep can be helpful in staving off recurrent bouts of bedtime gas. Sweet treats like foods containing sorbitol and fructose can be big gas offenders and should be avoided at nighttime because they are inadequately processed by the digestive system. And, that warm glass of milk before bed to help bring the sandman along quicker may actually cause restlessness from stomach gas pain as the body works hard to digest the milk sugar, lactose, which can create gas.
But, there is another lesser known entry among stomach gas causes that can present more apparent symptoms at night. Emotional distress and the digestive system are well known to be related. And being stressed or anxious can lead to too much air swallowing, a big contributor to gas build up, according to The Mayo Clinic. It is not uncommon for people to use the first part of their bed time lying awake and fretting over the things that can cause worry. This can create digestive upset during a time when the body needs rest instead.
In some cases, nighttime gas can be a result of unresolved constipation, and stomach gas pain at bedtime can occur if pre-sleep bowel movement attempts have been unsuccessful. Chronic constipation in children can create similar symptoms and result in fussiness and crankiness at bed time if bowel matters have not been remedied. Treating constipation with over the counter remedies or home treatments like honey, molasses or dried fruits, normally provides overnight relief. This may reduce the recurrence of nighttime gas if constipation is the source.
Treatment of gas at nighttime is no different than at any other point during the day thanks to the safe and incredibly fast acting simethicone based over the counter stomach gas remedies available. WebMD points out that there are no known side effects to simethicone, the active ingredient in many gas relief medications. Products like Gas-X Thin Strips provide relief within minutes, and drops designed for infants are nearly equally effective.
But, not everyone has gas relief products on hand, and certainly running out to get them at bedtime can be considered impractical. There are some home remedies to consider for relief either to be used alone, or in conjunction with medicinal remedies. Howstuffworks.com points out that increasing physical activity by walking around or stretching by sitting in the floor and bringing the knees to the chest may be able to draw out a belch or two. And, a cup of tea at bedtime can not only bring about relaxation, but herbal selections like chamomile and clove can reduce the symptoms of gastric distress, including gassiness.