Flatulence is one of the most natural and normal function of the body but for most of the people it is embarrassing at the same time. Farting occurs because of the breakdown of food in the digestive system and the swallowed air. The gases present in the food are separated after it has been digested that are released out of the body in the windy and smelly form, usually sulphur. However the air swallowed while eating, drinking or breathing doesn’t cause smelly farts as it’s the simple air being released from the body. Usually flatulence is a normal biological process like burping, sneezing or breathing but excess of it means one needs to make certain changes in the lifestyle such as more physical exercise and better eating habits. According to the National Health Service, an average person farts approximately 12 to 15 times in a day.
What causes farts?
- While eating or drinking we not only swallow saliva but also varying amounts of air that builds up in the gut. The gas produced is mainly composed of nitrogen and oxygen.
- Therefore once the food has been digested the gas is released in the combined form of the different gases such as sulphur, hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. The gas is built up and needs to release either by burping (belching) or flatulence (farting).
- Most of the times one farts without being aware of it and it isn’t really smelly or noisy. Smelly farts are usually rich in sulphur gas and mostly when the food has not been digested it starts decomposing and releases sulphur.
- Sedentary lifestyle is one of the most common causes of flatulence. When there is hardly any physical exercise after eating the body doesn’t work well to digest food.
- Eating a lot of spicy and oily food is also a cause of flatulence.
- Too much caffeine, smoking, consumption of aerated drinks and alcohol also increases flatulence.
- Exogenous or air that comes from the outside that causes flatulence can also build up when one experiences nausea, excess saliva or acid reflux.
- Endogenous or the gas produced in the gut can be produced as a sub product of digestion of different kinds of foods and also indigestion especially in non fibrous food items.
- Indigestion during pregnancy is the most commonly faced problem by the expecting mothers. One is not only farting but also bloating and burping all because of the increased hormone called progesterone that begins with the onset of pregnancy. It relaxes the smooth muscular tissues of the body including the digestive system that reduces the pace of digestion resulting in creation of more gas in the large intestine.
Symptoms of excessive farting – do I need to see a doctor?
Mostly, flatulence is nothing to be worried about and can be self treated best with home remedies. Therefore it might not be the best reason to see a doctor unless it happens too frequently and extremely foul smelling signifying major digestion problems. Given below are some of the symptoms that have to be looked after:
- Frequent and involuntary farting
- Release of a lot of wind with unusual noise
- Consistently foul smelling
- Cramps and bloated feeling in the abdomen.
Remedies and drugs
- Over the counter or OCT drugs such as charcoal tablets easily available at pharmacies are one of the best resorts. Charcoal is useful as it absorbs the gas within the gut and reduces the problem. However one can refer to a doctor in case of any previous history of reactions.
- Placing charcoal pads inside the clothing absorbs released gas and prevents foul smelling farts.
- Consumption of Probiotics can also help reduce the symptoms.
- An antibiotic called Rifaximin is most commonly consumed for not only treating flatulence but also diarrhea and bloating.
- One must also avoid eating food items that cause farting and have higher levels of unabsorbable carbohydrates. A doctor or a diet expert can anyday be consulted for a healthy diet pattern that includes right amounts of calories and other essential nutrients.
- Foods such as bananas, grapes, citrus fruits, lettuce and rice are easier to digest and should be consumed more.
- One should also try to have smaller amounts of food but more frequently.
- Chewing a lot of gum also must be avoided.
Flatulence is like any other biological function and can be embarrassing especially at the wrong moments. But it can easily be taken care of by making little changes in the lifestyle and having more physical activities in the time of a sedentary lifestyle.