Symptoms and Signs of Flatulence (Gas)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 7/22/2022

Doctor's Notes on Flatulence (Gas)

Flatulence refers to the presence of excess intestinal gas that is released from the anus with sound and/or odor. The excess gas is a byproduct of digestion within the intestine when bacteria normally present in the gut work to break down ingested foods. Swallowing air due to eating or drinking too rapidly, lactose intolerance, and maldigestion of certain foods can contribute to gas formation. 

Symptoms of flatulence may include excess or increased frequency of passing of gas from the anus. Associated signs and symptoms may include:

  • increased frequency or excessive instances of passing gas, 
  • foul-smelling gas, 
  • abdominal pain or cramping, and 
  • belching. 

Some people may also experience abdominal bloating, or the sensation that the abdomen is larger, and a feeling that has been described as “knots” in the stomach.

What Is the Treatment for Flatulence (Gas)?

Dietary modifications that may be useful in treating flatulence include:

  • Avoiding certain foods that cause gas
  • Reducing the likelihood of swallowing air by:
    • Eating slowly
    • Avoiding drinking from straws
    • Not chewing gum or eating hard candy

Medications that can help with gas include:

  • Antacids
  • Probiotics to restore beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract
  • Lactase products for those who are lactose intolerant
  • Products such as Beano which help with digesting sugars found in beans and certain vegetables

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.