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Simeticone

1. Simeticone

Simeticone or (simethicone) is a type of medicine called an antiflatulent. It is used to treat wind (flatulence).

It is a mixture of silica gel and dimeticone (or dimethicone, a type of silicone) and is known as "activated dimeticone".

It can help with trapped wind and bloating as well as colic in babies. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sometimes take simeticone to ease their symptoms.

You can buy it in pharmacies without a prescription, and in some supermarkets.

It comes as tablets, capsules, drops and a liquid that you swallow.

It often comes combined with other ingredients such as medicines to treat indigestion (antacids) or diarrhoea.

Simeticone is also known by the brand names Infacol, Wind-eze and Dentinox Colic Drops. When it's combined with other ingredients, brand names include Maalox Plus and Imodium Plus.

2. Key Facts

  • Simeticone usually starts to work within 30 minutes.
  • It works by bringing together the small gas bubbles in your gut to form bigger bubbles, allowing trapped air to pass through your body more easily.
  • It's generally safe with no known side effects.
  • Most people will only need to take it occasionally, or over a short period of time.
  • Simeticone can be taken during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

3. Who can and cannot take simeticone

Most adults and children, including newborn babies, can take simeticone.

It may not be suitable for some people. To make sure simeticone is safe to take, tell a pharmacist or doctor if you (or your child):

  • are allergic (or hypersensitive) to simeticone or any of the other ingredients
  • are having treatment for a thyroid problem

Simeticone often comes mixed with other ingredients. It's important to read the leaflet that comes with the medicine, or the information printed on the box or bottle, to make sure the medicine is suitable for you or your child.

If you are not sure, ask a doctor or a pharmacist for advice.

4. How and when to take it

The instructions for taking this medicine will vary, depending on the type of simeticone.

Always read the information in the leaflet that comes with the medicine or on the box or bottle.

How much to take

Doses vary depending on the type of medicine, the brand and the amount of simeticone in it. The dose is lower for babies.

For wind, the usual dose is between 100mg and 250mg. You can take the medicine as required, up to 3 or 4 times a day. It’s usually taken after meals and at bedtime.

For colic in babies, the usual dose is between 20mg and 40mg, given before each feed, up to 6 times a day.

How to take it

Infant colic drops

Shake the bottle. Measure the dose using the dropper or syringe provided and give to your baby right away.

Some brands can be added to your baby's bottle of milk. Check the leaflet or ask your health visitor or pharmacist if you're not sure.

Liquid

Shake the bottle. Measure the correct dose using a syringe, medicine spoon, or small measuring cup. Ask a pharmacist for one.

Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.

Tablets, capsules and gel capsules

Swallow these whole with some water.

Chewable tablets

Chew the tablets before swallowing. You can have a drink of water afterwards if you like.

What if I take too much?

Contact a doctor, health visitor or pharmacist if you have taken or given your baby more than the recommended dose of simeticone.

Taking too much simeticone is not likely to cause any serious problems. However, it may cause headaches, an upset stomach, diarrhoea or constipation.

5. Side effects

Simeticone is a very safe medicine and is generally not known to cause any side effects.

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to simeticone.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • you're wheezing
  • you get tightness in the chest or throat
  • you have trouble breathing or talking
  • your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital

Information:

You can report any suspected side effects to the UK Safety Scheme

6. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Simeticone only works in your gut and does not get into your blood. It's safe to take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are taking a type of simeticone that is combined with other ingredients, check with a doctor or a pharmacist to make sure it's safe before taking it.

Important

Tell a doctor if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.

7. Cautions with other medicines

Simeticone is generally safe to take with other medicines. However, talk to a doctor or pharmacist before you use simeticone if you are taking:

  • levothyroxine for thyroid problems. Simeticone might stop levothyroxine being absorbed properly, meaning it will not work as well.

If the medicine contains other ingredients with simeticone, read the leaflet or talk to a doctor or pharmacist to make sure it is suitable to take with other medicines.

Taking simeticone with herbal supplements

There are no known problems with taking herbal remedies and supplements with simeticone.

Important

For safety, tell a doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.

8. Common questions

How does simeticone work?

Simeticone works by bringing together the small gas bubbles in your gut to form bigger bubbles. The wind can then leave your body more easily (by burping or farting).

Simeticone does not pass into your blood. It stays in the gut until it leaves your body in poo.

How quickly should it start to work?

Simeticone usually starts to work within about 30 minutes. Liquids or chewable tablets may work slightly more quickly than non-chewable tablets or capsules.

For colic, you may need to give it to your baby for a few days to see the full benefits.

The same applies if you're taking it for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other long-term medical conditions that cause bloating.

Speak to a doctor or your health visitor if the symptoms get worse or do not improve within a few days.

How long will I take it for?

Simeticone is generally a safe medicine, so there's no strict limit on how long you or your baby can take it for. However, most people will only need to take it occasionally, or over a short period of time.

Talk to a doctor if you've been taking simeticone regularly for more than 14 days.

It's safe to continue giving simeticone to your baby for colic for several weeks, but talk to a doctor or health visitor if your baby's symptoms do not improve or if they get worse.

If you are taking simeticone to treat bloating caused by an ongoing condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), there's no harm in taking it long term. Just make sure you tell a doctor if you are taking it.

How good is it for treating colic and trapped wind?

For colic, there's not much scientific evidence that simeticone really works.

In studies where simeticone was used alongside a dummy treatment (placebo), there was not much difference between them.

We cannot be certain that it really works for bloating, trapped wind or indigestion either.

In studies, there was not much difference between taking simeticone and antacids together compared to taking antacids on their own.

One theory is that your symptoms (or your baby's) are not actually due to trapped wind. They may be caused by something else.

Is simeticone the same as dimeticone?

Simeticone is not the same as dimeticone.

Dimeticone is a substance found in many cosmetics and medicines, including nappy rash creams and treatments for headlice.

Simeticone is "activated dimeticone". It contains dimeticone, mixed with silicon dioxide or silica gel. This makes the medicine work better to get rid of the wind in your gut.

Are there other medicines for trapped wind?

There are several other medicines that you can try for trapped wind. Ask a pharmacist for advice, particularly if it's for a baby.

Gripe water (which contains dill seed oil) works by breaking down trapped gas bubbles. It can be used to treat colic in babies aged 1 month and above.

However, like simeticone, there's not much evidence that it works for colic.

There are other medicines for treating colic, bloating or trapped wind that work differently to simeticone and gripe water.

These include:

  • dicycloverine and peppermint oil to reduce spasms in the stomach
  • Colief to help break down the natural sugars in milk (lactose)
  • activated charcoal to trap gas bubbles
  • sodium bicarbonate and antacids to neutralise stomach acid
Can I drink alcohol with simeticone?

Simeticone is not affected by alcohol.

However, if you're taking a medicine that contains simeticone combined with other ingredients, read the leaflet to check it is safe to drink alcohol.

Ask a pharmacist if you're not sure.

Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?

There are no foods or drinks that you need to avoid when taking simeticone.

However, if you're bothered by bloating or trapped wind, it may help to:

  • avoid or cut down on foods that may cause bloating such as onions, cabbage, sprouts, turnips, beans and lentils
  • avoid or cut down on fatty and spicy foods
  • have fewer fizzy drinks
  • reduce caffeine (found in coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate)

Find out more about things you can do to help bloating and foods to help your digestion.

Can lifestyle changes help with trapped wind?

There are several things you can do to help prevent bloating and trapped wind.

It's a good idea to:

  • avoid foods that are known to cause gas, including onions, cabbage, turnips, beans and lentils
  • avoid or cut down on fatty and spicy foods
  • avoid chewing gum
  • avoid using straws for drinking
  • reduce or avoid drinking fizzy drinks and drinks containing caffeine
  • eat slowly
  • eat more fibre to prevent constipation. If you find high-fibre foods such as cereal or grains cause bloating, eat more fruits and vegetables instead to ensure you get enough fibre.
  • quit smoking (if you smoke)
Are there any other things that help with colic?

Talk to your health visitor for advice on soothing a baby with colic.

They may suggest trying things such as:

  • sitting or holding your baby upright when feeding them, to stop them from swallowing air
  • massaging your baby's tummy in a clockwise direction
  • winding your baby during and after feeds, if needed
  • changing the brand of formula or using slow-flow or anti-colic teats if you give your baby a bottle
  • gently rocking your baby over your shoulder, or in their basket or crib, or pushing them in their pram
  • giving your baby a warm bath

You may have heard about trying:

  • herbal and probiotic supplements
  • changing your diet if you're breastfeeding
  • using gentle pressure on your baby's spine (spinal manipulation) or skull (cranial osteopathy)

However, there's very little evidence these things work. Speak to your health visitor for advice and support.

Page last reviewed: 10 October 2019
Next review due: 10 October 2022