Passing wind is 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. However, some people suffer with more extreme flatulence.
Symptoms of Flatulence
Flatulence, breaking wind, farting, trumping… whatever you call it, it all means the same thing: releasing gas out through the rectum and anus.
The gas produced in your intestine (flatus) is largely a by-product of the bacteria lining your colon fermenting and digesting your food. The mixture of gases produced is directly related to your diet.
Over 99% of the gases produced—including hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide—are odourless. 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 a stronger smell.
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.
Causes of Flatulence
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.
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.
Occasionally, excess flatulence — or indeed, not breaking wind at all — can be linked to something more serious. If you are concerned about your health, you should consult your GP or healthcare professional.
Treatment of Flatulence
Simple changes to your everyday eating habits can help to cure and prevent flatulence.
Eating foods containing prebiotics and probiotics may be useful additions to your diet.
A healthy balanced diet, rich in fibre containing foods such as wholegrain carbohydrates and a wide variety of vegetables and fruit can help achieve an optimally balanced gut which can aid efficient digestion and, as a result, reduce flatulence.
- Ensure you follow a healthy, balanced diet, high in fibre
- Eat meals slowly and chew each mouthful thoroughly
- Try eating six small meals a day rather than three larger ones
- Drink soothing herbal teas, such as peppermint, ginger or camomile
- Exercise regularly
- Drink fizzy drinks, chew gum or suck on boiled sweets
- Eat too many of the main foods that promote fermentation in the gut