Flatulence (Bloating)

What is flatulence?

Flatulence or bloating is a medical term for gas. In fact, it’s normal for people to pass gas several times a day. Gas is a substance that has no fixed size or shape. The gas inside your digestive tract is made of air and other gases. Gas typically leaves your digestive tract through your mouth when you belch or through your anus when you fart.

Certain types of cancer and cancer treatment cal also cause flatulence.

How bad is my flatulence?

Mild: No change in bowel function or oral intake; intervention not indicated.

Moderate: Symptomatic, decreased oral intake; change in bowel function; persistent; psychosocial sequelae.

Severe: Pain, cramps, or a knotted feeling in your abdomen. A feeling of fullness or pressure in your abdomen (bloating) An observable increase in the size of your abdomen (distention).

How to manage mild flatulence?

Everybody has gas from time to time. However, if you have gas on a regular basis, there are some things you can do to prevent it, such as avoiding certain foods and eating slowly.

  • Once you know what foods trigger gas for you, eat small amounts of those foods or avoid them all together.
  • Eat slowly. This will decrease the amount of air you swallow.
  • Chew your food completely.
  • Avoid using a straw. Straws make you swallow more air.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Take a walk 10-15 minutes after you eat. This will help your body digest your food properly and reduce the chance of getting gas.
  • You can take over-the-counter medications to help you feel better. Some medicines need to be taken before you eat, while others can be taken afterward. Talk with your doctor about which medicines are best for you.
  • If your gas is more serious or related to a medical condition, your doctor may prescribe medicine.
How to manage moderate and severe flatulence?

If flatulence is persistent and painful or associated with vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abnormal weight loss, or blood in the stool you should consult your doctor as it may indicate a serious medical problem.

What causes flatulence?

People get gas for different reasons. But there are several main causes for gas.

When you eat, you swallow a small amount of air. This air travels to your stomach and intestines during the digestion process. If it stays in your intestines, it can cause gas. There are certain times you swallow more air than usual. They include when you:

  • Suck on hard candies or chew gum
  • Drink soda or other carbonated beverages
  • Eating too fast

You can also get gas because of what you eat. Sometimes, your stomach and small intestine don’t break down all the foods you eat, especially the fibers, sugars, and starches. These pass from your stomach and small intestine into your large intestine. There, bacteria that live in your large intestine break them down. This process creates gas. Some foods are known to cause gas. They include:

  • apples
  • asparagus
  • beans
  • bread
  • broccoli and cauliflower
  • cereal
  • cheese
  • milk
  • whole wheat products

Medical conditions. You may be more likely to have gas if you have certain medical conditions. Some of them include:

Additionally, some antibiotic medicines can cause gas.

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