What is Simethicone?
Simethicone, a mixture of polydimethylsiloxane and hydrated silica gel, is an antifoaming agent that appears as the active ingredient in more than 50 different over-the-counter gas relief medications found in countries all over the world. The medication is marketed under a wide variety of brand names, including Gas-X, Phazyme, Maalox Max and WindEze. Simethicone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a gas relief treatment in 1952. It is available in many varieties, including liquid, tablet, chewable tablet, capsule, gel capsule and dissolving membrane forms. Oral simethicone is dispensed as capsules (125 and 180 mg), chewable tablets (40, 80 and 125 mg), and liquid drops (40 mg per 0.6 ml).
Patients who are allergic to simethicone should read the packaging of gas relief medications carefully, as simethicone is an active ingredient in many of the most common gas relief formulas from popular brands.
Simethicone: How it Works
Contrary to popular belief, simethicone gas relief medications do not actually prevent the formation of gas, or reduce the amount of existing gas, in the intestinal track. Instead, simethicone works on the surface tension of gas bubbles, causing smaller bubbles to merge into larger ones. These larger gas bubbles may be passed much more quickly, and with less discomfort, than a series of small gas bubbles.
There is such a low occurrence of side effects because the medication is not actually absorbed into the bloodstream. Although additional clinical trials must be completed to determine the precise effects of using simethicone during pregnancy, simethicone is presumed safe because it is not absorbed into the blood and does not cross the placenta. Simethicone is also safe for the nursing mother. Consult your doctor if you have questions about nursing your infant while taking simethicone.
Most patients use simethicone to relieve pain or discomfort caused by an excess of gas in the stomach or intestinal tract. However, this is not the only use for simethicone; it is sometimes added to laundry detergents to prevent the production of excess foam. Medical professionals often give simethicone to patients before an abdominal ultrasound; simethicone’s antifoaming properties can help to reduce visual obstructions that are caused by an excess of intestinal gas.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that simethicone may be beneficial as a treatment for colic, however, these results have not been reproduced in clinical trials and the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved simethicone medications for this use. Consult your doctor for dosage advice before giving simethicone medications to your infant.
Your healthcare provider may also prescribe simethicone for other medical purposes not discussed here.
How to Take Simethicone
Simethicone is available in different oral drug formulations such as capsules, regular tablets, chewable tablets and oral solution. Usually, it is taken in four divided doses, after meals and before going to bed. If taking the drug for self-treatment, be sure to read the directions on the package and take the drug exactly as directed. If you do not understand the prescription label, consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Do not take more or less than the recommended dose.
Regular tablets and capsules should be swallowed whole. If taking chewable tablets, chew the tablet thoroughly before swallowing it. Do not take more than 6 tablets or 8 capsules of semithicone within a 24-hour period unless specifically instructed by your healthcare provider. Use the specific measuring device if taking the oral liquid formula. If used for younger children, the liquid may be mixed with 1 ounce of cool water or infant formula.
Important Things To Remember When Using Simethicone
- Inform your healthcare provider if you have known allergy to simethicone or any other drugs.
- Discuss with your healthcare provider all drugs that you currently take including prescription and non-prescription drugs.
- Inform your doctor if you plan to get pregnant, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s complete treatment program. Usually, simethicone is just part of a holistic treatment that may include diet and exercise plan. Follow your treatment regimen carefully for better results.