Flatulence and Gas

Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Flatulence and Gas (Symptom)


Flatulence is the expulsion of gas from the gastrointestinal tract through the rectum. Daily, the average person produces one to four pints of gas and expels it up to 14 times. Although flatulence can cause embarrassment to some people, it is a natural occurrence.


Eating certain foods or drinking carbonated beverages can introduce air into the stomach and increase flatulence. You may also swallow air when you eat too quickly or when you chew gum.

Flatulence is also caused by the passage of undigested food from the small intestine to the large intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine process the food and produce harmless gases, such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane, which are released as gas through the rectum. Certain foods, including carbohydrates, fiber and sugars, are more likely than other foods to produce gas.

Symptoms of excessive flatulence include: passing wind often, smelly flatus, loud flatus, abdominal distension and discomfort, rumblings in the lower abdomen.

Many different types of gastrointestinal conditions and diseases can cause flatulence. Flatulence may occur with conditions that slow digestion, such as gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying), and mechanical obstructions, such as pyloric obstruction (blockage between the stomach and small intestine). Pregnant women may also experience flatulence due to hormonal changes that slow the digestive process. Flatulence can also arise from conditions that impair the normal digestive process in other ways, such as acid reflux, hiatal hernia, or stomach acid deficiency.