What is Flatulence?

What is flatulence? Find out more about this digestive health issue - its causes and treatments.

 Flatulence, breaking wind, farting, trumping… whatever you call it, it all means the same thing: releasing gas out through the rectum and anus.

It’s a perfectly natural bodily function. It is thought that we typically release gas between 12 and 25 times a day, or 0.5 to 3 litres of gas per day.

The gas produced in your intestine (flatus) is largely a by-product of the bacteria lining your colon fermenting and digesting your food. Over 99% of the gases produced—including hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide—are odourless, but a small amount of gases contain sulphur and can compel anyone nearby to give you a wide berth.

Some gas in the intestines comes from swallowing air as we eat and drink, although this usually pops back up as a burp rather than as flatulence.

Most of the time, we manage to keep this bodily function discreet. The amount and frequency varies from person to person, but digestive problems can mean that excess flatulence gets out of control.

The mixture of gases produced is directly related to your diet. Certain foods, such as cheese, beans and eggs, contain more sulphur and so will be more likely to make your wind smelly. If there’s a problem somewhere in the digestive tract, food may not be broken down adequately, meaning that it starts to decompose before it’s fully processed. This can also result in smellier flatulence. 

Because excessive flatulence is linked to problems in the digestive tract, it’s often accompanied by other symptoms, such as stomach aches and pains, bloating and distension. In most cases, excess flatulence can be controlled with a change of diet and lifestyle. 



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