Flatulence (Gas) (cont.)
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What causes excessive flatulence or gas?
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Excess gas in the digestive tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon/large intestine) can come from two sources: 1) increased intake of gas, for example, from air swallowed; or 2) increased production of gas as certain undigested foods are broken down by harmless bacteria normally found in the colon. Undigested foods may also occur in chronic intestinal problems such as chronic megacolon, patients undergoing chemotherapy or in certain infectious diseases such as giardiasis.
Swallowed air (aerophagia) can occur with improper swallowing while eating or even unconscious swallowing of air out of habit.
Another major source of flatulence is lactose intolerance, which results in a decreased ability to digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products such as cheese and ice cream and in certain processed food such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing. This flatulence is often associated with diarrhea and cramping but can appear as only gas. Many people normally have low levels of the enzyme lactase needed to digest lactose after childhood. Also, as people age, their enzyme levels decrease. As a result, over time people may experience increasing amounts of gas after eating food containing lactose, and develop chronic flatulence with gas pain(s). One way to remedy gas pain or get gas pain relief is avoiding foods that contain lactose.
What foods cause excessive gas and/or cause gas pain?
If the body does not digest and absorb some carbohydrates (for example, the sugar, starches, and fiber found in many foods) in the small intestine because of a shortage or absence of certain enzymes there, this undigested food then passes from the small intestine into the large intestine, where normal, harmless bacteria break down the food, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and, in about a third of all people, methane. Eventually these gases exit through the rectum.
Foods that may cause acute and/or chronic constant flatulence or gas include:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017
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