‘Farting’, ‘chaffing’, ‘passing wind’ to ‘cut the cheese’ - or whatever you want to call it is the cause of many a joke and a snigger but if it’s an ongoing problem or occurs at inappropriate moments it can be deeply embarrassing and unpleasant.
- Passing wind (sometimes producing a foul-smell).
What causes Flatulence?
Trapped wind occurs when excess swallowed air moves from the stomach into the intestines making you feel bloated until the air is released as flatulence. Excess air can be swallowed by chewing gum, smoking and eating too fast.
Flatulence also occurs when food fails to breakdown properly in the stomach and small intestine and ends up undigested in the bowels. Hungry bacteria in the bowel gobbles it up producing gasses as it does so including smelly hydrogen sulfide. Most of this gas is absorbed into your bloodstream but the rest is released as flatulence. This can occur when you eat carbohydrates that are not easily digested - culprits include beans, cabbage, pulses, prunes, lentils and cauliflower to name but a few.
Some health conditions can also cause flatulence including: constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and gastroenteritis.
How is flatulence treated?
Over-the-counter charcoal tablets can help greatly. These work by absorbing gas in the digestive system. Charcoal pads worn in your underwear are also available. These absorb the gas that is released during flatulence and mask the foul-smelling gas.
Probiotics may also be useful in treating flatulence. These are dietary supplements which encourage the growth of "friendly bacteria" in your digestive system to aid digestion.
Avoiding unabsorbable carbohydrates that trigger flatulence, eating smaller meals and chewing food slowly can all help prevent the problem. Smoking and chewing gum should be avoided as these activities cause you to swallow more air than normal. Exercise can help as this improves the functioning of your digestive system and bowels.