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Although it sounds so complicated, flatulence is nothing but gas -- Something that all of us is familiar with. People usually produce about 1 to 3 pints of gas in a day and this gas is released around fourteen times a day. It's not really serious enough to be a threat to life but we all know that it's only threat involves dying from embarrassment.


People who experience flatulence have too much gas in their stomach or intestine. This is, of course, accompanied by a lot of belching and passing of gas through the rectum. Sometimes, people who are suffering from flatulence also feel bloated and have cramps in the stomach area. It is the pressure exerted by this gas that causes the discomfort and the bloated feeling that we go through when we are suffering from flatulence.

The gas that we release is primarily made up of nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. Although all five are odorless, they are sometimes accompanied by traces of indole, skatole and sulfur-containing compounds that smell like rotten eggs.

The amount of gas in your gastrointestinal tract may be increased by aerophagia or swallowed air. This can be caused by chewing gum or tobacco, drinking carbonated beverages and sucking on hard candy. People who are anxious tend to hyperventilate and end up with a lot of gas in their stomach.

The gas that builds up in the stomach usually moves to the small intestine and is usually absorbed by it. Unfortunately, some of the excess gas tends to go to the large intestine, causing the passing of gas to occur.


If you want to know if aerophagia is the cause of your flatulence, you can go to a doctor in order to have the gas tested. By analyzing the components of the gas that you released, a physician can assess the cause of your flatulence. If the gas contains a lot of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide then he can deduce that the excess air was caused by aerophagia. If your gas has a lot of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane, then it originated from GI production.

Flatulence can also be caused by the type of food that you eat. Some carbohydrates cannot be digested and absorbed by the small intestine because it lacks certain enzymes that can facilitate this process. The undigested food is then sent to the large intestine in order to be decomposed by bacteria, producing carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane in the process.
Image: Flatulence

Fats and proteins rarely cause flatulence. This is commonly caused by foods that contain carbohydrates. One of the well-known causes of flatulence are beans which contain a high amount of raffinose, a complex sugar that can be difficult to digest. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and asparagus also contain this substance. Starches from potatoes, corn and wheat can also cause flatulence because these are broken down in the large intestine. Fructose, a type of sugar that is found in onions, pears and wheat can also gases to build up in the gastrointestinal tract. Sorbitol, which is found in fruits and is used in sugar-free gum, can also have the same effect on the body.

Foods that are rich in fiber can also cause flatulence. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Examples of soluble fiber are those fount in oat bran, beans, peas and fruits. Although this type of fiber can easily dissolve in water, they tend to form a gel-like substance that can only be broken down in the large intestine, leading to the passing of gas. Dark beer and red wine have also been known to cause flatulence in some people. When insoluble fiber which is found in wheat bran and some vegetables is taken in, lesser gas is produced because this type of fiber passes through the intestines without being broken down.

Of course, not everyone is susceptible to flatulence. When the undigested food is sent to the large intestine, two types of bacteria are responsible for breaking down. Although the production of gases is inevitable, one of these species consumes the gases. So, it really depends on which type of bacteria you have more of.


In order to prevent flatulence, you can start by taking note of the foods that you eat. Maybe you can start by listing them down in a food diary and marking the types of food that cause flatulence. Upon pinpointing the offenders, try to avoid these foods as much as possible. If you feel that your lactose intolerance is the culprit, stay away from dairy products for fourteen days in order to assess the effects of your abstinence on your body.

Since flatulence can also be caused by the swallowing of air when chewing a piece of gum or sucking on hard candy, you should consider giving up that habit. Another habit that you should give up is overeating. Piling up too much food in your stomach can cause digestion problems which can lead to the breaking down of the food in the large intestine, causing the production of excess gas. On this note, you should also lessen your intake of fatty foods in order to help your stomach empty faster.


There are many non-prescription drugs that can be used to treat flatulence. One of them is Beano, a supplement that contains the enzyme your stomach needs to digest raffinose, the sugar from beans and other vegetables. Unfortunately, this drug cannot do anything about lactose and fiber.

You can also take some antacids like Di-Gel or Maalox II, so that you can just belch the gas instead of releasing them through your rectum. Another medicine that can be used for relieving flatulence are charcoal tablets which can help reduce the gas in your gastrointestinal tract when taken before meals.

You can also try some home remedies like drinking a concoction made of ½ teaspoon of dry ginger powder, a pinch of rock salt and asafetida and a cup of warm water or taking in two teaspoons of brandy with a cup of water before you go to bed.
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