Gas - flatulenceDefinition:
Gas, also called flatus or flatulence, is air in the intestine that is passed through the rectum. Air that is passed from the digestive tract through the mouth is called belching .
Gas is formed in the intestines as food is being digested. Gas can make you feel bloated, which may cause crampy or colicky abdominal pain .
Gas can be caused by any of the following:
- Eating foods that are difficult to digest, such as fiber . If you recently introduced fiber into your diet, having gas may be temporary. Give it a little time. Your body may adjust and stop producing gas.
- Eating foods that you cannot tolerate -- for example, if you have lactose intolerance and eat dairy products
Irritable bowel syndrome -- a chronic form of stomach upset that gets worse with stress
Malabsorption (when your body cannot absorb or digest a particular nutrient properly, often accompanied by diarrhea )
- Swallowing air while eating
- Avoid beans, cabbage, and carbonated beverages.
- Avoid gum chewing.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
- Eat more slowly.
- Relax while you eat.
- Walk for 10 - 15 minutes after eating.
Call your health care provider if:
Call your doctor if:
- You have other symptoms in addition to gas, like abdominal or rectal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or weight loss
- You have oily, foul-smelling, or bloody stools
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
Your doctor will perform a physical examination with special attention to your abdomen, and ask questions about your symptoms, such as:
- What is your diet like?
- Has it recently changed?
- What foods do you eat commonly?
- What foods have you eaten 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 medications do you take?
- Do you have other symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, early satiety (premature fullness after meals), bloating , or weight loss ?
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
Bailey J. FPIN's Clinical Inquiries: Effective management of flatulence. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:1098-1100.
Ohge H, Levitt MD. Intestinal gas. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2006:chap 10.
|Review Date: 4/12/2010|
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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