A patient wrote of her husband "having MAJOR problems with
gas". He shares this problem with many others but the fact is often
underappreciated. Gas in the bowels can cause uncomfortable dialyses and sleep
disturbances. It can cause patients to come off dialysis early. Some of the
symptoms mimic hypotension. There are expensive medications that can be
used but I find that activated charcoal (coated tablets) to absorb the gas and
peppermint or spearmint to let it escape from the stomach work just fine.
The timing is important. Charcoal after meals (when much air is often
swallowed) and peppermint after meals and before dialysis. Can also be taken
during dialysis but be careful not to choke on the mints. You also have to sit
up periodically to allow the gas to escape from the stomach.
Peter Lundin, M.D.
Minor editing by Stephen Z. Fadem, M.D.
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