Flatulence (Gas) (cont.)
Flatulence (Gas) Symptoms
Symptoms of flatulence are increased passage of gas, and abdominal bloating or pain, and belching. Embarrassment can be caused by the increased passage of flatus or the often-offensive odor it causes.
Gas: Everyone passes gas normally each day. A certain amount of gas is present in the GI tract at any one time, mainly in the stomach and colon. The average person passes gas about 10 times each day and up to 20-25 times is considered normal. More than that may be excessive.
Belching: An occasional belch during or after meals is normal and releases gas when the stomach is full of food. But if a person belchs frequently, he or she may be swallowing too much air and releasing it before the air enters the stomach. Some people swallow air to make themselves belch, thinking it will relieve their discomfort. This practice may turn into an annoying habit. Belching may signal a more serious upper GI disorder such as peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis.
Abdominal bloating: Many people believe that too much gas causes abdominal bloating. However, people who complain of bloating from gas often have normal amounts of gas. They actually may be unusually aware of gas in the digestive tract. A diet of fatty foods may delay stomach emptying and cause bloating and discomfort, but not necessarily too much gas. Certain conditions may cause bloating, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, or colon cancer. People with scar tissue (adhesions) from abdominal operations or internal hernias may have a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to gas.
Abdominal pain and discomfort: Some people have pain when gas is present in the intestine. When pain is on the left side of the colon, it can be confused with heart disease. When the pain is on the right side of the colon, it may mimic gallstones or appendicitis.
When to Seek Medical Care for Flatulence
Visiting a health care professional is the best place to start. Seek medical attention whenever symptoms other than simply excess flatulence occur, such as:
Severe crampy abdominal discomfort
Change in bowel habits
Blood in the stool
Abdominal pain and swelling, particularly in the right lower part of the abdomen
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/7/2014
Lance W Kreplick, MD, MMM
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