Is flatulence normal?
The average adult has flatulence between 13 and 21 times a day. Flatulence is a normal part of the digestion process. But if flatulence builds up in your intestines and you’re unable to expel it, you may start to feel pain and discomfort.
Gas pain, bloating, and flatus frequency can be exacerbated by anything that causes diarrhea or constipation. Flatulence can also be caused by:
- swallowing air while you eat or drink
- gum chewing
- smoking cigarettes
- eating certain foods
Make an appointment with your doctor if your flatulence symptoms:
- cause you distress
- change suddenly
- are accompanied with constipation, diarrhea, or weight loss
Your doctor can determine the underlying cause.
How to get rid of flatulence?
Often, your flatulence is caused by what you eat. Food is digested primarily in your small intestine. What is left undigested is fermented in your colon with bacteria, fungi, and yeast, as part of digestion. This process produces methane and hydrogen, which are expelled as flatus.
For many people, changing dietary habits is enough to alleviate flatulence and its accompanying symptoms. One way to determine which foods are giving you flatulence is by keeping a food diary. Common culprits include:
- high-fiber food
- foods with high fat content
- fried or spicy food
- carbonated beverages
- artificial ingredients commonly found in low-carbohydrate and sugar-free products, such as sugar alcohol, sorbitol, and maltitol
- beans and lentils
- cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli
- prunes or prune juice
- foods containing lactose, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP) — molecules found in a wide range of foods, such as garlic and onion, that may be hard to digest
- over-the-counter fiber drinks and supplements
When Should You See Your Doctor?
If your flatulence and bloating concern you, discuss these symptoms with your doctor. She will check your history and symptoms to see if they point towards a health condition that can cause excessive flatulence. Many of these are treatable.