Gas - flatulence

  • Definition
    • Gas is air in the intestine that is passed through the rectum. Air that moves from the digestive tract through the mouth is called belching.

      Gas is also called flatus or flatulence.

  • Alternative Names
    • Flatulence; Flatus

  • Considerations
    • Gas is normally formed in the intestines as your body digests food.

      Gas can make you feel bloated. It can cause crampy or colicky pains in your belly.

  • Causes
    • Gas can be caused by certain foods you eat. You may have gas if you:

      • Eat foods that are hard to digest, such as fiber. Sometimes, adding more fiber into your diet can cause temporary gas. Your body may adjust and stop producing gas over time.
      • Eat or drink something your body cannot tolerate. For example, some people have lactose intolerance and cannot eat or drink dairy products.

      Other common causes of gas are:

  • Home Care
    • The following tips may help you prevent gas:

      • Chew your food more thoroughly.
      • Do not eat beans or cabbage.
      • Avoid foods high in poorly digestible carbohydrates. These are called FODMAPs and include fructose (fruit sugar).
      • Avoid lactose.
      • Do not drink carbonated drinks.
      • Do not chew gum.
      • Eat more slowly.
      • Relax while you eat.
      • Walk for 10 to 15 minutes after eating.
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your health care provider if you have:

      • Gas and other symptoms such as stomach pain, rectal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fever, or weight loss
      • Oily, foul-smelling, or bloody stools
  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit
  • References
    • Azpiroz F. Intestinal gas. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 17.

      McQuaid KR. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 132.

      Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR. Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(5):419-426. PMID: 22963061