Excessive Flatulence is commonly known as ‘farting’. This problem is extremely embarrassing for all those who suffer from it. It occurs mostly due to gases generated in intestine due to improper food digestion. This gas is released through the anus resulting in a flatus or fart. In some cases, gas is also present in the gut because we swallow the environmental air. Flatology is the term coined for the study of medicines for this problem. Amount and frequency of flatus released is different among different persons. The awkward sound associated while releasing the gas is generally due to anal sphincters and closed buttocks which is the major cause of embarrassment and at the same time a major cause of humor for all others who witness such a situation.
What Causes Excessive Flatulence
Everybody passes gas. Some may do it frequently but without sounds while some may do it very less but always with sounds or vice versa. Let us see some reasons-
- Swallowing Environmental Air- Either it is burped out or released as a fart. Excessive swallowed air in the gut may also lead to hiccups.
- Undigested Food- Some foods are difficult to digest for some people’s body or for all. This undigested food starts to rot in the intestine and ultimately decomposed by intestinal bacteria to form gas. This gas reaches the rectal tract and is then released out from the rectum to produce foul odor. It is usually sulfur in the form of hydrogen sulfide.
- Constipation- It increases small amount of gas but usually it leads to bloating. In Bloating the abdomen swells and the person feels a little pain and full at stomach due to the tightness.
- Medicines and supplements for diet may lead to gas as well as bloating.
- Bloating, flatulence and upsetting of stomach is common in women right before their periods. This happens due to changes in hormonal level. Water retention occurs in the body at this time which is confused with gas. Gas occurs but that is due upset stomach.
- Crohn’s disease may lead to gas. In this disease ulcers occur in the deep linings of digestive tract. Diarrhea, fever, improper digestion etc. are common problems caused by the disease.
- Bowel Obstruction is another disease where in digestive tract has blockages. It leads to bloating, vomiting, cramping in abdomen, gas etc. The gas is not able to get released out of the gut and causes more pain.
Changing the diet definitely relieves one from excessive gas. Though there are medicines and treatments available but altering the diet is one of the most helpful measure that one can follow for improvements.
Following food items should be avoided-
- Cabbage, Cauliflower, peas, radishes, raw potatoes, asparagus etc.
- Legumes like- lentils, beans, pulses etc.
- Many Fruits are responsible for gas such as- melons, peach, apples, bananas etc. They cause less problems though.
- Lactose intolerant people must avoid dairy products else excessive flatulence will be the immediate result after lactose consumption.
- Packaged food having lactose should also be avoided.
- Beano is Dietary supplement which helps in preventing formation of gas.
Simethicon is a compound which is present in most of the medicines helpful in relief from gas. It cures excessive gas, bloating etc. It basically breaks the gas bubbles in the digestive tract.
As we age, the power of digestive system grow weaker and the problem of flatulence increases. We must avoid beans and dairy products at such an age when we go for little or no exercise and feel weak at gut because these two products are famous for producing gas in the intestine.
Funny Myths Related to Flatulence
- Flatulence was considered to be the source of methane gas. It was thought that cattle release methane on flatulence but this is not true. 20-25% methane is supposed to be released by cattle out of which 90-93% is through burping.
- Lighting a match reduce the flatulence odor which is absolutely false.
In New Zealand, there is a large amount of agricultural production and the cattle release a big volume of methane through burping(mainly) and flatulence. Methane is a greenhouse gas and this much amount of gas has a large impact on the environment. So, the government had once proposed for a Flatulence Tax. It was not successful and later on a method was developed to harvest that methane and convert it into bio-gas.
So, flatulence or farting is basically the result of undigested food in the intestine and swallowing of environmental air. The former happens when the intestine lacks the enzymes needed to break down every kind of sugar(carbohydrates, lactose etc.), fat etc. due to which undigested food in the large intestine is decomposed by bacteria to produce foul gases like- methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide etc. The later happens mostly due to fast eating and drinking and this gas is generally released through burping.
This problem can be solved by taking care of what you eat, in how much amount and at what time of the day. Have small meals in short intervals and eat light food at night.