What is flatulence?

Flatulence means excess gas in your intestinal tract.

It either gets there when you swallow air, or when too much gas is produced during the digestive process – we all produce gases including methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

Your body will normally try to get rid of excess gas, at one end of your intestinal tract and/or the other. Common terms for flatulence include breaking wind, passing gas, farting, belching or burping.

What are the symptoms of flatulence?

Why do I have flatulence?

Not only can excess and involuntary flatulence be embarrassing and annoying, but it can be a symptom of an underlying problem, for example:

  • Swallowing too much air (called aerophagia) as a result of drinking too quickly, chewing gum, using tobacco products, sucking sweets, fizzy drinks, or hyperventilation
  • Excess bacteria in the small intestine (SIBO)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Food intolerances, especially lactose or fructose intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Delays in your food and drink moving on from your stomach (called gastroparesis)
  • Ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where the inner lining of the large bowel is inflamed and develops ulcers
  • Crohn’s disease, the other form of IBD, where some parts of your colon become inflamed

How do we diagnose the causes of flatulence?