What causes flatulence?


Quick Answer

Flatulence can result from natural causes such as excessive swallowing of air and indigestion or as a result of side effects to medicines or foods, says the National Health Service. Certain carbohydrates that cannot be digested and absorbed by intestines pass into the colon and are broken down by bacteria, producing gas and causing flatulence.

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What causes flatulence?
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Full Answer

Examples of foods with a high amount of unabsorbable carbohydrates include beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes and foods containing unrefined cereal fiber, according to the National Health Service. Other food and drink containing sorbitol or fructose can cause flatulence. Health conditions such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and gastroenteritis can cause flatulence. Ibuprofen, laxatives, antifungal medicines and statins may also be a cause.

Flatulence is a regular biological process that can occur in people around five to 15 times a day, reports the National Health Service. Typically, flatulence is normal, but a doctor should be contacted if it is accompanied with additional symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, unexplained weight loss, bowel incontinence or blood in stool.

Treating excessive flatulence can usually be done without the help of medicine, says the National Health Service. Avoiding foods high in unabsorbable carbohydrates; eating smaller and more frequent meals; eating and drinking slower; and exercising regularly can reduce flatulence. Over-the-counter medications such as charcoal tablets or simethicone can alleviate symptoms. If the flatulence is caused by an underlying health problem, treating the condition can provide relief.

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