What is gas?
Gas (flatus) is made in the stomach and intestines as your body
breaks down food into energy. All people pass gas, some people more than
others. It is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times per day.
What causes gas?
Common causes of gas include:
- Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped
up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as
flatus. Excessive air swallowing may cause
- Foods and beverages. The amount
of gas that different foods cause varies from person to
person. And the foods that produce gas with odor may be different for every person too.
- Constipation. This can cause bloating but generally does
not increase gas.
- Medicines or nutritional supplements. Both
prescription and nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements,
can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
- A medical condition,
such as a
bowel obstruction or
- Changes in hormone
levels. It is common for women to have bloating right before their periods
because their bodies retain fluid.
Can I treat or prevent gas?
You may be able to prevent gas by changing your eating and
drinking habits. Occasionally gas is a symptom of a medical condition that
Examples of gas-producing foods are:
- Vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus,
broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, green peppers,
onions, peas, radishes, and raw potatoes.
- Beans and other
- Fruits such as apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears,
prunes, and raw apples.
- Wheat and wheat
- Carbonated drinks, fruit drinks, beer, and
- Fried and fatty foods.
- Sugar and sugar
- Milk and other dairy products, especially in people
who have trouble digesting
lactose, the main sugar found in
- Packaged foods that contain lactose, such as breads, cereal,
and salad dressing.
Dietary supplements such as Beano may help to prevent gas.
Some people get relief from gas from products containing
simethicone, a medicine that dissolves gas bubbles. Nonprescription
medicines with simethicone include Gas-X and Mylicon.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
July 12, 2011
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