Flatulence occurs when gas is passed from the digestive system through the anus. It is the body’s way of eliminating excess gas during the digestive process. Most people who have flatulence problems find that these only occur for just a short period of time, though others have to deal with it quite longer. Passing gas is, in general, harmless but it may call for a doctor’s attention when it is experienced for long periods of time.

Medical treatment for flatulence is needed to resolve the underlying cause of chronic and excessive passing of gas. Since a person’s personal and social life is also affected by this, treatment is essential for him or her to regain his/her self-confidence. The treatment simply involves practicing proper eating habits and avoiding gas-causing foods.

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What is flatulence?

Flatulence refers to the process of passing gas coming from the stomach. It is the medical term for farting and passing wind, and affects people of all ages and races. People normally pass gas anywhere between 6 and 20 times a day. While most people release odorless gas, others discharge gas with stinking smell. Nasty-smelling gas occurs when a person consumes foods that contain high amounts of hydrogen sulfide. Aside from foul smelling gas, sufferers have to deal with the embarrassing noise that comes with it which is the result of the anal sphincter vibration.

What causes flatulence ?

Flatulence occurs as a result of gas enzymes consuming undigested nutrients in the large intestine. Food must be completely digested in the stomach before moving on to the intestines. When food remains undigested upon leaving the stomach, gas enzymes inhabiting the large intestine will feed on it causing gas to be produced. Aside from the normal digestive process, gas will also accumulate in the digestive system when an individual swallows air while ingesting food or fluids. Flatulence is one of the ways the body uses in getting rid of the accumulated excess gas.

How common is flatulence?

Anyone pass gas time and again, regardless of age and race. Passing gas is part of the body’s biological process, similar to sweating and breathing. Men tend to pass more gas than women at about 14 to 25 times per day, compared to 7 to 12 times per day for most women. However, women’s farts tend to be smellier, due to high concentration of hydrogen sulfide due to various hormonal reasons apart from diet.

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What causes flatulence to occur?

Flatulence occurs due to variety of reasons, and some of these are:

  • Lactose intolerance

This condition occurs when the digestive system fails to digest lactose. Lactose is a variety of sugar present in milk and milk products. Too much lactose results in gas formation.

  • Pregnancy

A woman’s body will undergo a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy. For instance, changes in the normal levels of progesterone will cause the GI muscles to rest which slows down digestion. When digestion slows down, gas will build up in the body. Aside from hormonal changes, a woman’s eating habits can also cause passing of gas.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Flatulence may also occur due to IBS, which is a stomach disease that causes odd bowel movement. IBS can trigger flatulence as sufferers have improper eating habits and diet.

  • Aerated drinks

These drinks are added with artificial carbon dioxide which only fills the digestive system with gas, resulting to excessive gas which needs to be expelled from the body.

  • Swallowing air

This occurs when an individual eats too hurriedly or smoke which only results in the build-up of excess gas in the stomach. Chewing gum is also conducive for air to gather in the stomach resulting to passing gas.

  • Food

Some foods can trigger not only excessive but smelly gas as well. These foods contain high amounts of hydrogen sulfide which makes the gas foul smelling.

Does flatulence need treatment ?

Flatulence is considered normal but it may require medical attention if a person experiences unwarranted passing gas which is accompanied by abdominal cramps, burning sensation, reverberating lower abdomen and abdominal distention. The person might be suffering from a medical condition like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) which may occur as a result of an impaired esophageal sphincter. The doctor will conduct a series of diagnostic tests to figure out the possible cause such that the appropriate treatment can be started immediately.

How to prevent farting

Flatulence can be prevented by modifying the drinking and eating habits. A daily intake of probiotics has also been proven effective in increasing the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract.  Probiotics not only limit the number of bad bacteria, but treat digestive imbalance as well. For those who do not have sufficient amounts of digestive enzymes, digestive enzyme supplementation is a great way to improve the digestive system. Ginger supplements and fennel seeds also help in improving the digestion and preventing flatulence.

Flatulence is a normal occurrence affecting people from all walks of life. Although most of the time it is harmless, passing too much gas calls for a visit to the doctor as it may be sign of an underlying health problem.

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  3. Sharp Pain in Stomach-Causes and Treatment

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