What Is Flatulence? Causes, Home Remedies, And Treatment Strategies

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Flatulence can be an unpleasant experience, but almost everyone has to face it at one point or another. However, some people suffer from it more than others. Constant bloating is indeed uncomfortable, embarrassing, and can even be pathological. But that's not all, flatulence can even lead to painful abdominal cramps, therefore prompt treatment is vital to keep this uncomfortable issue at bay and prevent it from becoming a more painful ailment. So what is Flatulence and what is its cause? And most importantly, how to treat flatulence, are there any home remedies? Read along to find the answers.

What is Flatulence?

Flatulence, also known as flatus in medical terms, is the release of gasses from the digestive system through the rectum. It's a normal part of digestion and in most cases doesn't create any issue. However, some people might pass more gas than others, or they might have foul-smelling flatulence. In such cases, it might indicate an underlying issue with the digestive system.

What causes flatulence

What causes flatulence?

The normal digestive process is assured by gut bacteria. These bacteria break down the food and produce gas as a byproduct, but that's completely normal. Anything that increases the production of gasses in the stomach causes flatulence.

The primary reason can be:

  • Consumption of gas-producing foods such as beans, lentils, cabbage, onion, and carbonated drinks.
  • Excessive intake of fermentable carbohydrates, also called FODMAPs ( Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols).
  • Swallowing air while eating (aerophagia) or talking. Habits like eating chewing gum, or using straw also lead to accessible intake of air.
  • Medical conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chronic functional digestive disorders, Inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), etc.
  • Gastrointestinal infections that disrupt gut microflora can also lead to increased production of gas.

Are flatulence and bloating the same thing?

Flatulence and bloating are often used interchangeably, it's because the underlying cause is the same, abdominal gasses.

However, both are distinct gastrointestinal experiences.

Flatulence refers to the expulsion of gasses from the body through the rectum and might include oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, etc. It's a normal part of digestion, mostly influenced by dietary factors.

On the other hand, bloating is an accumulation of gasses in the stomach leading to abdominal distension or fullness. It could be due to excessive gas production, impaired gas transit dysbiosis (an imbalance in gut microbiota), etc.

Home Remedies to Treat Flatulence Quickly

The good thing is flatulence is an easily curable issue. Often, home remedies provide immediate and lasting relief from Flatulence. Here are some science-backed home remedies that can treat flatulence quickly;

  1. Including 1 to 2 grams of Fennel, cumin and coriander in your diet can offer you quick relief from Flatulence.
  2. Antispasmodic plants such as Lemon Balm can also cure flatulence by calming the gut.
  3. Take a pinch of Peppermint and Lemon Balm in a bowl, pour some hot water, and leave it for 10 minutes. Drink the concoction for quick relief from flatulence.
  4. A teaspoon of peppermint oil mixed with salad or food or taken directly can ease flatulence. Piperning has carminative properties which ease intestinal muscles and facilitate easy passage of gas, thus giving relief from flatulence.
  5. Ginger tea is also a potent home remedy for flatulence. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes the digestive system making it easier for gas to pass.
  6. Prepare a Rosemary infusion by mixing 50 gm of Rosemary in a liter of boiling water and leaving it for 15 minutes. Drink a cup of it after meals to prevent flatulence. Rosemary accelerates digestion, particularly fats which reduces intestinal gas.
  7. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and take it before more to get relief from flatulence. However, people suffering from kidney or liver disease should only take it after consulting their doctors.

How to Prevent Flatulence?

Flatulence is easily preventable with little lifestyle adjustment and following healthy habits. Here's how you can prevent flatulence in the first place before it becomes an issue for you;

  • Avoid gas-producing foods like cabbage, beans, broccoli, dairy products, etc.
  • Gradually include high-fiber food in your diet for better bowel movements and easy gas passage.
  • Indulge in daily physical activities for up to 30 minutes. It aids digestion, reduces bloating, and eliminates flatulence.
  • Ear food calmly not haphazardly to avoid gas ingestion.
  • Stay hydrated and proper hydration aids digestive activities and reduces the likelihood of gas buildup.
  • Reduce consumption of carbonated drinks as they introduce excessive gas in the digestive system causing flatulence.
  • Add probiotic food to your diet like Yogurt, Kefir, etc. Probiotics maintain healthy gut flora which prevents dysbiosis and flatulence.

Treatments Available for Flatulence

If flatulence is hindering the quality of your life and you don't have any relief from home remedies, you can opt for available treatment options;

  1. Over-the-counter medication like Simethicone can help. It breaks down gas bubbles in the digestive tract and allows easy passage.
  2. Activated charcoal can also help relieve flatulence as it can absorb excess gas in the digestive system.
  3. Probiotic supplements can also help alleviate flatulence by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
  4. Clay-based digestive dressing can also help treat flatulence.

When to Seek Medical Assistance For Flatulence?

Flatulence is normally a harmless condition that usually resolves on its own. However, some warning signs need to be assessed by doctors to rule out any other possible medical conditions.

  • Persistent or worsening flatulence
  • Changing bowel habits like diarrhea, constipation, etc.
  • Flatulence is accompanied by persistent abdominal pain and discomfort.
  • Blood in stool.

Summary

Flatulence is indeed an uncomfortable situation, something that can cause considerable embarrassment. But, flatulence is a normal part of digestion and is usually harmless. If the condition aggravates, home remedies are often enough to rectify excessive flatulence. However, in case you have no relief from flatulence even after trying multiple home remedies or over-the-counter medication, better consult a doctor. It will help you find the exact cause of excessive flatulence and get the necessary treatment.

References 

  • Lacy BE, Gabbard SL, Crowell MD. Pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating: hope, hype, or hot air? Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011;7(11):729–39. [PMC free article]
  • Di Stefano M, Miceli E, Missanelli A, Mazzocchi S, Tana P, Corazza GR. Role of colonic fermentation in the perception of colonic distention in irritable bowel syndrome and functional bloating. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;4(10):1242–7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2006.07.004. [PubMed]

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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