Gas is air in your digestive tract. You make it when you swallow air and when the bacteria in your large intestine help digest food. You get rid of gas in two ways: through your mouth (burping) or through your anus (flatulence).
Flatulence is excess gas in your stomach or intestines. It can lead to bloating and flatus containing small amounts of sulfur. The more sulfur flatus contains, the more of an odor it will have.
Gas is a natural consequence of swallowing and digestion. Everyone has gas. The average adult passes gas between 13 and 21 times a day. But having too much gas is uncommon. It may sometimes indicate a digestive disorder.
Though symptoms vary from person to person, common symptoms of gas involve burping, passing gas, bloating, and pain or discomfort in your abdomen.
Since gas enters your digestive tract when
you swallow air and when the bacteria work to break down undigested foods, you are
likely to have more gas if you swallow more air or eat certain foods.
You will swallow more air if you
- Chew gum
- Drink carbonated, or fizzy, drinks
- Eat or drink too fast
- Suck on hard candy
- Wear loose-fitting dentures
Foods that are most likely to cause gas
- Beans and lentils
- Vegetables (such as cabbage and onions)
- Dairy products containing lactose
- Carbonated beverages
- Whole-grain foods
Besides, excessive gas may be a sign of
some disorders, such as:
- Autoimmune pancreatitis
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Dumping syndrome
- Eating disorders
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Intestinal obstruction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Lactose intolerance
- Peptic ulcer
- Ulcerative colitis
If you have excess gas and feel uncomfortable,
your doctor may diagnose its cause with a medical history and physical exam.
For a medical history, your doctor may ask
- Your symptoms
- Your eating habits
- Prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take
- Current and past medical conditions
During a physical exam, your doctor will:
- Check for bloating or swelling in your abdomen
- Listen to sounds within your abdomen using a stethoscope
- Tap on your abdomen to check for tenderness or pain
If your doctor thinks there is a certain condition that causes excess gas or symptoms, more tests may be ordered.
Considering that swallowing air and diet play an important role in increased gas, your doctor may recommend some ways for you to swallow less air and have a better diet so that your symptoms will improve.
In addition, some over-the-counter
medicines may also reduce gas or gas symptoms, including:
To guarantee your safety, you should consult your doctor if you want to use supplements or any complementary or alternative medicines or medical practices.