So, you farted. Then an hour later you passed more gas. Then 30 minutes later you released yet another toot. OK, what’s going on here?!
First of all, it’s totally normal (and healthy!) to fart throughout the day. In fact, the average person farts about 13 to 21 times every day—whether they realize it or not.
What Is Flatulence?
There’s gas, and then there’s flatulence—they’re not exactly the same thing. Gas is air in your digestive tract. Flatulence refers specifically to the excess gas in your stomach or intestines that can cause bloating and, well, farts.
Farts (or flatus) is the gas that leaves your body through your anus. The reason it smells is because it contains small amounts of sulfur. The more sulfur your farts contain, the smellier they are. (Pee-ew.)
Even though it’s normal to fart more than a dozen times a day, it’s understandable that some days it may feel like your farts are endless, or more pungent than usual.
While it’s uncommon to have too much gas (even if it may feel like you’re going to pop like a balloon), it is possible to have a little extra, which can cause a plethora of symptoms. (Psst … here are some tips to beat that balloony bloat.)
What Causes Excess Gas?
Symptoms of gas can present in many ways. It can cause burping, farting, bloating, or pain or discomfort in your abdomen.
Here are common causes of excess gas:
1. You swallowed too much air.
It’s normal to swallow a little bit of air when eating or drinking, but some behaviors can send extra air down your digestive tract:
Drinking fizzy drinks, such as soda or seltzer
Eating or drinking too fast
Smoking cigarettes or cannabis
Sucking on hard candy
Using a straw
Or wearing loose-fitting dentures.
2. You ate hard-to-digest foods.
Your body digests each food you eat differently. Your stomach and small intestine actually have a harder time digesting certain carbohydrates—sugars, strarches, and fiber—in the food you eat. As these undigested carbs pass through your large intestine, bacteria then works to break them down, which can create excess gas. Here are some common gas-causing foods:
And sugar-free products.
3. You have an underlying medical issue.
You may be able to tame your toots with lifestyle changes, such as taking steps to swallow less air, quitting smoking, and learning your trigger foods so you can eat them sparingly or with over-the-counter anti-gas medications. (Learn more tips to tame tortuous gas.)
If lifestyle tweaks don’t help or if your symptoms get worse, see a doctor. They’ll be able to help you find the root of your excessive toots.
Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (Accessed on December 27, 2021 at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract)