Gas - flatulence

Flatulence; Flatus

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

Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:

  • What foods do you commonly eat?
  • Has your diet changed recently?
  • Have you increased the fiber in your diet?
  • How fast do you eat, chew, and swallow?
  • Would you say that your gas is mild or severe?
  • Does your gas seem to be related to eating milk products or other specific foods?
  • What seems to make your gas better?
  • What medicines do you take?
  • Do you have other symptoms, like abdominal pain, diarrhea, early satiety (premature fullness after meals), bloating, or weight loss?

Tests that may be done include:

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.
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.

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:

References / Related Articles
Abdominal pain

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.

Hall JE. Physiology of gastrointestinal disorders. In: Hall JE, ed. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 67.

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

Review Date: 4/9/2018
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM QualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 9-1-1 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only—they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.