Flatulence (Gas): Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Flatulence
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What Is Flatulence (Gas)

Flatulence is the presence of excess gases in the intestine and stomach. Normal people pass up to three pints of gases daily; that is 14 times maximum.

Many causes may lead to flatulence; following are the most common:

  • Excessive Swallowing of Air: All of us swallow some air while eating or breathing; this is natural. However, many other habits may contribute in swallowing much more amount of gases; following are the most important:
    • Gum chewing
    • Smoking
    • Loose fitting dentures
    • Sucking of foods
    • Chewing food quickly; eating fast
    • Hot drinks
    • Fizzy drinks
  • Certain types of food; such as beans, onions, dark beer, red wine, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, raisins, artichokes, lentils, pulses, apples, and Brussels sprouts
  • Constipation
  • Dietary supplements
  • Medical illness; such as, Crohn’s disease, Parasites, Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Before menstrual period in women

Signs And Symptoms Associated With Flatulence (Gas)

Flatulence can cause the following symptoms:

  • Bloating in the belly
  • Excessive belching; excessive passage of gases from the rectum. This is defined as the passage of gases more than 25 times daily
  • Social embarrassment which is the most common presenting symptom of flatulence
  • Pain in the belly
  • Discomfort in the belly

How It Affects Our Colon Health?

If you eat certain typed of food which cannot be absorbed through the intestine, this indigested food will reach the colon. Naturally, there are huge numbers of beneficial bacteria living in the colon; these bacteria will form gases from undigested food that reach the colon.

The direct cause of flatulence formation is gas production from bacteria in the colon. The major gases that are produced by the colonic bacteria are methane and hydrogen. The main sources of food that are prone to form gases when digested by the colonic bacteria are sugars.

Colon contains a huge number of different enzymes that help in breaking down the undigested food. Some of those enzymes; known as gas enzymes, will break down some of the undigested food to produce* gases.

Flatulence may reflect many colonic disorders; the most serious of them is colon cancer. Other benign conditions are irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, malabsorption, gastroenteritis, and lactose intolerance.

What National Institute Of Health Is Saying About Flatulence?

NIH

Depending on the recent National Institute of Health recommendation regarding when to consult your doctor about flatulence, you have to consult your health care provider when you are complaining from flatulence in addition to one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Cramping the abdomen
  • Sensation of discomfort in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Any changes in the bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen

What Are Recommended Treatments?

If having frequent flatus is a concern for you, you have to consult your doctor as soon as possible to discuss this issue fully. Your doctor will take a full medical history and exam you. He may ask for some lab tests and some imaging studies. Finally, he will reach a certain diagnosis; if the cause of your excessive passage of flatus is serious, he will tell you to plan a proper plan of management.

If your health provider assures you that there is no serious illness underlying your complaint, he will give you anti-gas drugs, for example, simethicone, and will give you the following tips to reduce* the flatulence:

  • Add more fibers to your diet; try to add bran. This is must be done slowly especially if you were depending on fast food previously
  • Control* your consumption of sugars especially corn and pasta
  • Drink enough amount of water daily; at least one litter
  • Avoid using straws to drink; try to drink directly from the cup
  • Stop* smoking as it is a major source of excess gas swallowing
  • Stop* consumption of carbonated drinks; for example, soft drinks
  • Do regular exercises every day
  • Avoid gum chewing; it introduces more gases through your mouth
  • Eat slowly; do not eat when you are hurry or busy. Enjoy eating; enjoy every single bite of your meal
  • Avoid over consumption of certain types of gas forming vegetables which I mentioned before
  • Contact your dentition if you feel that your dentures are loose fitting
  • Do not suck your food instead chew it slowly
  • Do not talk while you are chewing; this will introduce more air into your stomach

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Author

Expert Author : Lisiana Carter (Consumer Health Digest)

Lisiana Carter has been a freelance health writer for over ten years having written books, blogs and articles. She is the author of a number of websites and teaches people how to enter the freelance writing field.