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.
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
- 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?
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) breath test – which finds out if you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine (called SIBO)
- Carbohydrate malabsorption breath test – which discovers if you have certain food intolerances (fructose or lactose)
- Colonic transit – a non-invasive test which looks at how long it takes for faeces to pass through your bowel
- Defaecography – which investigates any problems you may have when trying to open your bowels
- Gastric emptying test – to find out how quickly food leaves your stomach
- IBSchek™ (coming soon) – a blood test