Gas (flatus)

Gas or flatus is produced in the stomach and intestines as the body breaks down food into energy. All of us pass gas and it is relatively normal to pass air from 6-20 times in a day.

What are the causes of gas?

  • Swallowing air – if the air being swallowed is not burped up, it passes via the GI tract and released via the anus as flatus. Excessive ingestion of air can cause hiccups.
  • Certain foods and beverages – the amount of gas that various foods cause tends to vary from one individual to another. In addition, the foods that generate gas with odor might be different for each individual as well.
  • Medications or nutritional supplements – both over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as dietary supplements can trigger flatus and bloating as side effects.
    Gas

    All of us pass gas and it is relatively normal to pass air from 6-20 times in a day.

  • Constipation – this causes bloating but does not generally increase gas.
  • Changes in the level of hormones – women are likely to end up bloated before their periods due to water retention
  • Crohn’s disease

Management

Gas can be prevented by changing the eating and drinking habits. Occasionally, it is an indication of a health condition that necessitates treatment.

  • Vegetables such as asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, onions, green peppers, radish, peas and raw potatoes.
  • Fruits such as bananas, apricots, peaches, melons, pears, raw apples and prunes.
  • Beans and other legumes
  • Eggs
  • Wheat and wheat bran
  • Carbonated beverages, beer, fruit drinks and red wine
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Milk and other dairy products especially individuals who have difficulty digesting lactose
  • Sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Packaged food products that contain lactose such as cereal, breads and salad dressing

There are also dietary supplements that can be used to help prevent its formation. Some individuals are able to achieve relief from products that contain simethicone which works by dissolving the gas bubbles.

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