11 Ways to Help Pass Gas after an Abdominal Surgery

After abdominal surgery, the nurses and doctors seem quite concerned about whether you are able to pass gas or not. You may wonder as to why they are showing so much interest in a thing that is a usual part of routine life. The reason is that post abdominal surgery and after taking so many medicines during surgery, there is a possibility of developing a complication known as postoperative ileus, which is characterized by delay in bowel movements and it may need significant medical therapy.

What Are the Causes of Gas after Abdominal Surgery?

After abdominal surgery the movement or motility of gut is slowed down. Buildup of gas is caused due to number of reasons such as:

  • Swelling and inflammation due to tissue injury
  • General anesthesia
  • Medications given to relieve post operative pain
  • Fasting for abdominal surgery
  • Reduced movement and walking
  • Slowed activity of nervous system

How to Pass Gas after Abdominal Surgery

1. Use a warm compress

Place a warm compress on your abdomen and it will help in passing gas and relieving gas pain. Make sure that the warm compress is not too hot before placing it on your abdomen. It is better to place it over a piece of towel or any other cloth and avoid putting it directly on the skin. It is also important to avoid putting warm compress directly on the surgical wound as it may result in burning of the tissues and also reduce the speed of healing of tissues.

2. Do regular movements

Gut motility is slowed due to physical immobility caused by the surgery. Hence, you should start moving as early as possible after abdominal surgery. Walking is a great strategy to improve motility of the gut and eliminate or pass gas after abdominal surgery. However, you should start gradually and not strain yourself. Begin by walking gently and slowly. Make it a habit to walk slowly at least 3-4 times in a day. You can also start by moving in bed: rolling the knees from one side to another side with feet on bed or slide heel of one leg along bed towards your bottom at a time.

3. Drink warm drinks or beverages

Warm drinks or beverages help in stimulating motility of the gut, which helps in movement of gas and relieving gas pain. Consuming a glass of warm water in combination of walking for a short distance can help you pass gas and relieve pain due to gas after abdominal surgery. You can also drink warm soups, broths, herbal teas, etc.

4. Avoid activities which swallow air

Try and minimize swallowing of air. Hence, avoid activities in which air is swallowed. Such activities are:

  • Smoking
  • Sucking hard candies
  • Chewing gum
  • Drinking liquids from a straw

5. Avoid foods that produce gas

Certain foods increase the production of gas in bowel. Hence, you should limit or avoid their consumption. Such foods are:

  • Legumes-chickpeas, lentils, baked beans
  • Potatoes and corn
  • Cruciferous vegetables-cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli
  • Garlic and onions
  • Oats and wheat
  • Dried fruits: dried apricots, pears and prunes

6. Avoid drinking fizzy (carbonated) drinks

Air bubbles are present in soft drinks or carbonated beverages which get swallowed when you drink them. Try to minimize your consumption of soft drinks or avoid them completely while you are recovering from abdominal surgery as they may make it difficult for you to pass gas post surgery.

7. Change the position of your body

How to pass gas after abdominal surgery? It is very difficult to pass gas when you lie flat on the back as your gut motility is not promoted in this position. Instead you should lie on the left side to help the movement of gas through the digestive tract. You can also keep a pillow in between your knees while lying on your side to support your abdomen. You should sit upright on a chair 3-4 times in a day. This will help pass gas after abdominal surgery. After your meals, take a walk, and then sit in a chair for ½ hour to 1 hour. Don’t remain in your bed for long time during day time.

8. Eat slowly

Eat slowly and chew the food thoroughly and well before swallowing it. When you chew your food thoroughly, it is digested more easily in the digestive tract, moves faster through the intestines and less gas is produced during the process. Also eat small quantities of food at a time.

9. Take probiotics

You may be prescribed large dosages of antibiotics post surgery to prevent infection. Due to antibiotics the gut bacteria may become imbalanced. Due to bacterial imbalance, the production of gas in the gut may increase. Probiotics help in improving motility of the gut and reduce production of gas. Probiotics are healthy bacteria present in the gut. You can also eat yogurt to promote intestinal bacterial growth, which helps in overcoming gas and bloating.

10. Exercises

In patients who have not undergone a urological procedure, the below mentioned exercises may help to pass gas:

  • Pelvic tilt

Lie on the back and bent your knees. Use the muscles of your buttock and stomach to rock the pelvis up and down. Take care to not hold the breath. Do 5 repetitions.

  • Abdominal tightening

Gently suck the belly in or tighten your abdomen as you are trying to put zip to pants that don’t fit. Take care to not hold the breath. Relax and do 5 repetitions.

  • Bridge and twist

Lie on the back and bent your knees. Tighten the muscles of your stomach and buttock and raise the hips a couple of inches above the bed. Keeping in this position, twist towards your left and then towards your right. Lower the hips to the bed. Relax.

11. Massage of the bowels

How to pass gas after abdominal surgery? You can do massage of your bowels using your fingers to make small circles on your belly along the bowels. Make sure to move from right side to left side. Using 2 fingers gently press down in the belly while circling around. The massage helps most when done while you are lying on left side. 

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