Flatulence is the passing of gas from the GI tract at the anus. Remember that excessive flatulence can be quite embarrassing and makes an individual uncomfortable around others. Luckily, it can be managed with alterations to the diet and lifestyle.
It is important to note that flatulence is a normal bodily process that is experienced regularly. Some individuals only pass wind a few times in a day while others pass out more. The general average is around 5-15 times in a day.
Why does flatulence occur?
When swallowing food, saliva or water, small amounts of air are also swallowed which builds up in the GI tract. Gas also accumulates when digesting food. The body must eliminate the build-up by passing wind or burping.
Oftentimes, the individual does not notice that he/she has passed wind since most of the gases are odorless and often released in small amounts. Flatulence usually has a bad odor if it contains gases that smell such as sulphur.
Excessive flatulence can be brought about by ingesting increased amount of air than normal or eating food that is difficult to digest. It might also be linked to an underlying medical condition that involves the digestive tract including a recurrent case of irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion.
When to consult a doctor?
A doctor should be consulted if the flatulence is upsetting especially if passing out smelly gas frequently. A doctor should be consulted if the following symptoms are present such as:
- Continuous abdominal pain and bloating
- Bowel incontinence
- Recurrent episodes of constipation or diarrhea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood-streaked stools
- Signs of infection such as vomiting, fever, chills, joint and muscle pain
If the individual experiences continuous episodes of flatulence, it can be controlled with changes to the lifestyle and diet such as:
- Avoiding foods that trigger flatulence
- Regular exercise
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Eat and drink in a slow manner
Some over-the-counter medications can also help for troublesome cases of flatulence such as simethicone or charcoal tablets. If associated to an underlying medical condition, treatment can help resolve it.