flatulence head pic

Flatulence

Farting, invented to make little boys laugh and to make the rest of want to crawl into big holes with our embarrassment. Most flatulence is completely normal and healthy and farting 6-20 times a day is in no way uncommon. This fact probably doesn’t help if you just let one rip in front of your whole pilates class. There are a number of causes of farting and below we cover the fundamentals, the smells, the processes and when it may be worth a visit to the local GP. Enjoy!

+   Symptoms

The main symptoms of flatulence are pretty standard:

  • Farting
  • Pain in the stomach or tummy
    • Sharp pain
    • Knotted pain
  • Swelling or bloating in abdomen

These symptoms can also be signs of other more serious conditions such as

  • An appendicitis
  • Gallstones
  • Heart Disease

If you have the symptoms of gas along with any other symptoms listed below here you should go to see your Doc or go to an A and E:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Prolonged or recurring pain in the tummy or chest
  • Fever
  • Blood in your stool

+   Causes

Your body digests food in its digestive tract. Starting with saliva all the way down to the colon it breaks food down into its smallest parts so that nutrients can be absorbed into your blood stream. If too much of the food is not digested by the time it reaches your colon the bacteria that naturally live there start to break it down. When bacteria breakdown the food gases are released, most commonly methane, hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is the main cause for the smell of farts. The pain you may get with gas is caused by the inability for the gas to leave your system.

Flatulence is very common and it is pretty normal to fart between 6 and 20 times a day. Foods high in fiber and difficult to digest carbohydrates are the worst culprits but they are often the healthy foods also such as vegetables, fruits and beans.

Flatulence may also be caused by:

  • An inappropriate diet or may be a sign that you are intolerant to some type of food
    • Those who are lactose and gluten intolerant lack the enzyme to properly break down wheat and dairy
    • These foods therefore reach the colon undigested and the bacteria there go to town creating a multitude of gas to go with it
  • An infection
    • Infections can cause inflammation in the intestine making it harder to digest food
  • Antibiotics
    • Antibiotics help you fight off bad bacteria but they can also damage and disrupt your good bacteria upsetting your digestion
  • Swallowing Air
    • This may happen if you eat to fast or during activities like swimming
    • If the air gets into your stomach and you don’t burp it out you may lead to flatulence
  • An underlying chromic condition such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease

+   Treatment

Most flatulence doesn’t need treatment and it’s quite normal. If you feel like you are having severe problems with flatulence there are a couple of simple things you can do. If none of the below help consider seeing your doctor to check you don’t have an underlying condition such as IBS causing your problem.

Change in diet:

  • You may want to avoid eating foods that you think are causing your problems. If you are unsure what is causing it consider keeping a food diary where you write down everything you eat so you can look back and see what is causing the most problems
  • Cut back on fatty or fried food, they delay your stomach from emptying and slow down digestion
  • Eat slower and in smaller quantities. This will help to reduce the amount of air you swallow when eating. The small quantities makes it easier to digest the food and gives it more time to break down before hitting the lower intestine
  • Make sure you are relaxed when you eat

Exercise Regularly

Over the Counter Medicine

  • There are a number of medicines that you can get from your local pharmacy to help with your flatulence. Ask your pharmacist what will work best for you
    • Charcoal Tablets
    • Simethicone

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