What is the normal amount of gas to pass?
It is normal to pass gas 6-25 times a day.
What is gas?
Intestinal gas is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. The latter 3 gases account for the more toxic levels of the odor. The composition of the gas varies depending on the types of intestinal bacteria that are present.
What produces gas?
The large intestine (colon) contains many bacteria, fungi, and yeast. As food passes through the intestinal tract, some of the carbohydrates remain undigested as they reach the large intestine. These organisms enjoy the undigested carbohydrates and break the carbohydrates down and produce gas as the byproduct.
What increases gas?
The most common factors which contribute to gas production are eating patterns and bacterial composition of the intestine.
Foods that cause an increase in gas production include:
--Milk products especially if you are lactose-intolerant which means that you do not have the enzyme lactase needed to digest the carbohydrate, lactose.
--Spicy, fried or fatty foods
--Broccoli, cabbage, onions, celery
--Apple or prune juice
--Anything containing sorbitol, mannitol or maltitol, found in many low-carb or sugar-free foods
Other factors that increase gas production include:
--Anything that increases swallowing of air such as talking while eating, chewing gum or sucking on candy, using a straw or sports bottle, deep sighing, smoking or chewing tobacco, or ill fitting dentures.
--Long-term use of medications for relief of cold symptoms
--Smoking or chewing tobacco
--Overloading your stomach
--Hormonal changes such as during menstrual cycle
--Constipation or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What decreases gas?
Other than altering the flatugenic behaviors already mentioned, these remedies may be helpful.
--Lactase found in products such as Lactaid can be taken to help with the digestion of lactose when consuming dairy products.
--Beano contains the enzyme which breaks down raffinose, the carbohydrate in beans.
--Simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon) breaks down the gas bubbles to help dissolve them.--Some natural remedies include peppermint and chamomile tea, fennel, anise, and turmeric.
--Fiber products such as Metamucil and Citrucel may also be helpful if Irritable Bowel Syndrome is present. However, these products may initially increase gas.
It is advised to seek medical attention if gas production is accompanied by weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn or blood in the stool, or if there is an increase in frequency, location or severity of the symptom.
References: Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Photo: courtesy of Medline.