What Causes Flatulence?

Find out more about the causes of flatulence - from food to more serious digestive health concerns.

Normal levels of wind are simply the result of your body and the bacteria in your gut breaking down food. Your bacteria churn out carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane as they help you digest your meal.

The volume of gas produced and the composition of it are affected by your diet and the variety of bacteria in your gut.

What causes excessive flatulence?

Consider first the food-related possibilities for what causes flatulence. There are lots of foods — generally those containing lots of indigestible carbohydrates and fibre — which can make the problem worse.

Food intolerances could be the culprit. If you suffer from food intolerance, it could be that your body lacks the enzymes needed to digest certain foods. For example, people with low levels of the enzyme lactase will struggle to break down the sugars in milk.

Various health problems can cause flatulence, including:

Indigestion often causes severe flatulence, which can be a side effect of many medicines, including laxatives, antifungals, statins and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. 

Occasionally, excess flatulence — or indeed, not breaking wind at all — can be linked to something more serious. If you experience pain, fatigue, blood or mucus in your stools then it’s worth getting in touch with your doctor.



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