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What are the Most Common Causes of Excessive Flatulence?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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The primary causes of excessive flatulence are eating too many gas-producing foods and swallowing too much air while eating, talking, or breathing. Gas can be caused by two main things: air being swallowed through the mouth and moves downward into the digestive tract, or by bacteria which naturally inhabit the intestines and produce gas during the breakdown of food. Gases from both sources can end up in the large intestine as flatus, and it must be passed through the rectum.

There are ways to reduce excessive flatulence, since it can be an embarrassing problem when in a social setting. The first is to be mindful of foods that are consumed. Many gas-producing foods are actually healthy for the body, such as fiber and cruciferous vegetables; therefore it is not a good idea to stop eating them altogether. Instead, cutting back on them or not eating them together in the same meal is often a better solution. With fiber, excess gas can often be reduced by slowly introducing high fiber foods into the diet instead of all at once.

Since excessive flatulence can also be caused by swallowing too much air, tactics should also be implemented to help avoid this. Common causes of air swallowing include chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, talking too quickly, and eating too fast. Drinks should be sipped slowly rather than gulped.

There are also over the counter medications which may help prevent excessive flatulence. Some contain enzymes which help the body break down gas-causing foods more efficiently, thus resulting in less gas overall. This is one of the best options for many sufferers, since most gas medications to not prevent or reduce the overall amount gas.

Other medications for excessive flatulence, such as simethicone, allow gas to be passed more easily. It does not reduce the amount of gas or stop patients from getting it, but it can help to relieve pressure and bloating caused by excess intestinal gas by joining small gas bubbles together and allowing them to pass through the rectum. While this actually causes flatulence, it may help it go by more quickly thus speeding up the process of passing gas.

While these treatments help most individuals, some people are more prone to excessive gas than others. This could be because one has a less efficient digestive system than most, is more sensitive to gas-producing foods than others, or has an underlying health condition. Some medications may also produce excess gas, and reducing them may not be an option. Patients are advised to discuss concerns with a doctor if flatulence becomes a chronic issue.

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