Diet and Exercises for Gas After Hysterectomy
Gas after hysterectomy is a frequent post operative and painful side effect that is often overcome with simple strategies.
Read on now to learn:
- 10 great home solutions for shifting gas after hysterectomy
- What causes gas after hysterectomy
This article is by Michelle Kenway, Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out the internationally acclaimed guide to pelvic floor safe exercise for women. This guide is ideally suited to women seeking to exercise safely after hysterectomy or prolapse surgery.
10 Solutions for Shifting Gas After Hysterectomy
These simple solutions will help you to avoid wind or gas after hysterectomy treatment, and help alleviate gas pain and discomfort if it does occur. Choose from any or a combination of the following solutions:
1. Beware of gas producing foods
Some foods increase gas production when in the bowel. Limiting or avoiding the following foods can reduce production of wind or gas:
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts;
- Legumes – lentils, chick peas, baked beans;
- Corn and potatoes;
- Onions and garlic;
- Wheat and oats; and
- Dried fruit.
Note: rice is non-gas producing carbohydrate.
2. Beware of carbonated beverages
Carbonated beverages or soft drinks contain air bubbles which are swallowed along with drinking. Try to avoid or minimise your intake of soft drinks during your hysterectomy recovery to minimise wind pain or gas after hysterectomy surgery.
3. Eat slowly and chew food well
Chew your food well to make it more readily digested in your gut so that it passes through faster and produces less gas in the process. Take the time to chew your food thoroughly before swallowing.
4. Avoid swallowing air
Try to minimise the air you swallow. Swallowing air is associated with:
- Drinking from a straw;
- Chewing gum; and
- Sucking hard sweets.
5. Drink peppermint tea
Drinking peppermint tea can provide relief from wind pain. Peppermint promotes gut motility and can be useful in alleviating post hysterectomy gas pain. Avoid drinking peppermint tea if you have reflux or hiatus hernia to avoid worsening heart burn.
6. Consider probiotics
Probiotics aim to improve intestinal motility and reduce intestinal fermentation and gas production. Hysterectomy surgery is usually associated with large doses of antibiotics to prevent post operative infection. Antibiotics can cause an imbalance of intestinal bacteria. Probiotics are helpful bacteria when added to the gut. Speak to your pharmacist about your suitability for a course of probiotics. Many probiotics are readily available over the counter. Eating yogurt rich can also promote the growth and reestablishment of beneficial intestinal flora to help overcome bloating and gas.
7. Move regularly
Physical immobility is a major factor contributing to slowed gut motility and gas after a hysterectomy. Moving in bed after hysterectomy surgery can be as simple as sliding one heel along the bed at a time towards your bottom, gentle knee rolling with feet on the bed and changing position pain permitting. Try to move regularly as advised by your specialist post operatively. Walking is an excellent strategy for improving gut motility and eliminating gas.
8. Correct your body position
Laying flat on your back can be a very difficult position for passing gas and it does little to promote gut motility. Some women find that it they lean forward slightly this position can help to pass gas more readily than laying flat. Try leaning forward supporting the upper body on the back of a chair or on a window sill at waist height. Unless there is a medical reason for you to stay lying on your back, side lying can sometimes help shift wind and ease gas pain. Side lying comfort can be aided using a pillow to support the abdomen.
9. Use warm packs
Warm packs on the abdomen can help to alleviate gas pain. Avoid placing warm packs directly over abdominal hysterectomy wound as sensation around the area may be reduced and healing tissues may be susceptible to tissue burn.
10. Adequate pain relief medication
Some pain relieving medications slow down gut motility increasing the likelihood of constipation and gas pain. Speak with your doctor regarding medication alternatives that may assist you reduce your intake of strong pain relief such as narcotic and codeine-based medications if you are having difficulty with ongoing gas pain after hysterectomy surgery.
What Causes Gas After Hysterectomy?
After a hysterectomy gut motility or movement is slowed down. Gas build up or wind is caused by a number of factors including:
- Inflammation with tissue injury (especially with abdominal hysterectomy);
- General anaesthetic;
- Post operative pain relieving medications;
- Fasting for surgery;
- Decreased walking and movement;
- Slowed nervous system/neural changes; and
- Hormonal changes.
If you can incorporate one or more of these solutions into your recovery, you will be likely to manage and reduce gas after hysterectomy and alleviate gas pain more readily.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.