It could stink, it could be loud and downright embarrassing. No matter how much you try to hide it, you fart, everybody does. Passing gas is normal, and every human being does it at least 14 to 20 times a day, consciously or unconsciously.
Flatulence as it is medically termed is the release of gas from the digestive system through the anus. It is also commonly known as passing wind, or having gas.
Normally humans eliminate gas through the mouth (belching) or through the anus (flatulence). When we eat, drink or swallow saliva, we also swallow tiny amounts of air. This swallowed air accumulates in the gut. The gas within our digestive system consists mainly of nitrogen and oxygen. When we digest food, gas, mainly in the form of hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide is released. As the gas builds up, the body will have to get rid of it.
But more than being a routine activity, this ?embarrassing habit? says a whole lot about your life style and health especially with regards to your eating habits, and they may even serve as an indication of a larger digestive health issue.
According to a research by Dr. Gina Sam a gastroenterologist in New York City, carbohydrates such as sugars, starch and fibers produce the most gas in the colon, as they do not get absorbed as completely in the small intestine. This is why those who eat lots of vegetables tend to be more flatulent than their meat-eating counterparts. So if a person is eating a lot of beans, vegetables or whole wheat, they tend to fart more.
Mostly comprised of carbon dioxide, flatulence also contains an eclectic blend of non-smelling gasses, including oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sometimes methane. The foul smelling odor actually comes from a combination of sulfur compounds, which comprises of less than 1 percent of the gas?s composition. Many red meats and protein contain high amounts of sulfur ? so while those who eat vegetables may pass gas more often, flatulence from meat eaters may smell much worse.
The cause of that embarrassing sound that emanates when you fart is as a result of the gas passing through the rectum, causing vibrations in the anal opening. The auditory pitch depends on the tightness of the sphincter as well as the velocity of the gas being expelled.
Though sometimes you can deliberately control your fart during the day by tightening your rectum, they come out boundless at night.
Flatulence as a symptom
While Flatulence is a normal physiological activity, too much of it may be telling you of a pending health problem such as missing components in the intestines. According to Dr. Sam, your fart could be saying that your body may lack certain enzymes in their small intestines. A common problem is lactose intolerance, where individuals lack the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and most dairy products. This causes diarrhea and bloating, because the sugar stays in the small bowel and causes more gas production.
While excessive flatulence can reveal a lack of compounds in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, it can also indicate an overabundance of GI components.
Also, foul smelling flatulence could be a symptom of an infection. According to gastroenterologist Dr. Anish Sheth, one of the things that make stool smell worse than it normally does is if you have a bleeding ulcer, you will not only have foul smelling stool but also foul smelling gas. Certain infections like giardia is notorious for causing really foul smelling flatulence.
Excessive flatulence or foul smelling flatulence is often accompanied by changes in stool and digestion. So if you?re noticing significant fluctuations in your digestive health, it may be time to see a doctor.
To prevent excessive gas, it may help to avoid common offenders like beans, peas, cabbage, onions, whole-wheat bread, beer and other carbonated drinks. Substitute low-lactose or lactose-free varieties in your diary. Eat fewer fatty foods and try eating slowly. Going for a short walk after eating will also do you a lot of good.
But otherwise, passing gas is simply part of everyday life.