What is gas?
When your stomach and intestines breaks down food into energy, gas (flatus) will be produced. The entire digestive tract, from the stomach to the rectum, intestinal gas is existed as the natural consequence of swallowing and digestion.
Frequently, certain foods, such as beans, are only fully broken down when they reach the large intestine (colon), where bacteria act on (ferment) them.
Sometimes, a digestive disorder can diagnosed by excessive intestinal gas, but everyone passes gas several times daily, and occasional burping or belching is normal.
How common is gas?
Everyone passes gas, someone more than others. In fact, it is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times per day. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of gas?
The common symptoms of gas are:
- Voluntary or involuntary passing of gas, either as belches or as flatus.
- Sharp, jabbing pains or cramps in your abdomen. These pains may occur anywhere in your abdomen and can change locations quickly and get better quickly.
- A ‘knotted’ feeling in your abdomen.
- Swelling and tightness in your abdomen (bloating).
- Sometimes, gas pains may be constant or so intense that it feels like something is seriously wrong.
- Gas can sometimes be mistaken for:
- Heart disease
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Prolonged abdominal pain
- Bloody stools
- A change in stool color or frequency
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
- Persistent or recurrent nausea or vomiting
What causes gas?
- Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as flatus. Excessive air swallowing may cause hiccups.
- Foods and beverages. The amount of gas that different foods cause can different between person to person. And the foods that produce gas with odor may be different for every person too.
- This can cause bloating but generally does not increase gas.
- Medicines or nutritional supplements. Either prescription or nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
- A medical condition, such as a bowel obstruction or Crohn’s disease.
- Changes in hormone levels. It is more popular for women to have bloating right before their periods because their bodies retain fluid.
What increases my risk for gas?
- There are many risk factors for gas, such as:
- Lactose or gluten intolerance
- Diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
- Carbonated beverages
Chronic intestinal condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is gas diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely determine what’s causing your gas and gas pains based on:
- Your medical history
- A review of your dietary habits
- A physical exam
- During the physical exam, your doctor may check your abdomen to see if it’s distended and listen for a hollow sound while gently tapping your abdomen. A hollow sound usually indicates the presence of excess gas.
How is gas treated?
The following dietary changes may help decrease the amount of gas your body produces or help gas move more quickly through your system:
- Try to identify and avoid the foods that affect you the most.
- Try cutting back on fried and fatty foods.
- Temporarily cut back on high-fiber foods.
- Go easy on fiber supplements. Try cutting back on the amount you take and build up your intake gradually.
- Reduce your use of dairy products. Try eating low-lactose dairy foods, such as yogurt, instead of milk. Or try using products that help digest lactose, such as Lactaid or Dairy Ease.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage gas?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with gas:
- Divide into smaller portions. The varieties of the foods that can cause gas are part of a healthy diet. So, try eating smaller portions of problem foods to see if your body can handle a smaller portion without creating excess gas.
- Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and don’t gulp. If you have a hard time slowing down, put down your fork between each bite.
- Avoid chewing gum, sucking on hard candies and drinking through a straw. These activities can cause you to swallow more air.
- Check your dentures. Poorly fitting dentures can cause you to swallow excess air when you eat and drink.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking can increase the amount of air you swallow.
- Physical activity may help move gas through the digestive tract.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Intestinal http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/intestinal-gas/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050922. Accessed April 1, 2017
Gas and gas pains http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20019271. Accessed April 1, 2017
Gas (Flatus) - Topic Overview http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/gas-flatus-topic-overview. Accessed April 1, 2017
Review Date: August 15, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019