Flatulence (Gas) Quick Overview
- Flatulence is the state of having
excessive stomach and/or intestinal gas (waste gas produced during digestion)
that is usually released from the anus with sound and/or odor.
- Causes of excess gas in the digestive
- swallowed air,
- breakdown of undigested foods,
- malabsorption of certain foods.
- Much of the gas generated is due to microbial
breakdown of foods so that gases, for example, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and
methane are generated; the odor is from other trace waste gases or
compounds such as skatole and sulfur-containing substances.
- Someone with flatulence may have one or
more the following symptoms:
- increased frequency or excessive instances of
- smelly or foul smelling gas production (flatulence),
- abdominal, bloating and/or
- abdominal pain or discomfort.
- Flatulence is usually not a medical
emergency; however medical care should be sought quickly if a person develops other symptoms such as
- Diagnosis of excessive flatulence is
usually done by a health-hcare professional after reviewing the patient's history
and physical exam. In most instances tests are not run but if needed, analysis
of patients' breath, flatus (gas passed out of the rectum) may be done. Other
rarer causes of flatulence may require additional tests such as colonoscopy,
- Home remedies for excessive flatulence
include dietary changes since flatulence is often caused by certain foods that
can be eliminated from the diet.
- Medical treatment for flatulence may
include antibiotic treatment, increased dietary fiber intake, and including
probiotics in the diet (recommended by some, but not all physicians); more
serious causes of flatulence (for example,
irritable bowel syndrome
small intestinal bacterial overgrowth [SIBO]) may require
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications to
treat excessive flatulence include compounds such as Beano (an OTC that contains
sugar – digestive enzyme), antacids, and activated charcoal.
- Excessive flatulence can be reduced or
prevented with several methods such as
- modifying your eating habits,
- changing your diet to avoid those foods that cause you personally to
produce excessive gas,
- utilizing over-the-counter anti-gas compounds and,
- if you are lactose
intolerant, avoid dairy products.
- Most individuals that alter their diet
can reduce or prevent excessive flatulence and thus have a good prognosis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/11/2015
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