Everyone has gas. Burping and/or “passing gas” is normal. But because it is embarrassing, many people believe they pass gas too often or have too much gas. Most of the time, gas in the body is odorless. The odor of passed gas comes from sulfur made by bacteria in the large intestine. Sometimes gas causes bloating and pain, although not everyone has these symptoms. How much gas the body makes and how sensitive a person is to gas in the intestines have an effect on how uncomfortable one feels. There are circumstances when gas is abnormal. A thorough exam and consultation with a physician can rule out any abnormal causes of gas.
Symptoms of gas include:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
Risk factors for the development of gas include:
- Consuming certain gas-producing foods
- Consuming carbonated beverages like soda and beer
- Excessive air intake
When to See a Doctor
Occasional abdominal distress such as cramping, bloating or gas may result from a number of causes and often resolves on its own. If your symptoms have not resolved within a few days, are persistent or recur frequently, it’s time for a thorough evaluation and consultation with a specialist.
Treatment options for individuals with gas vary and may include the following:
- Follow a special diet, avoiding certain foods that cause gas
- Decrease intake of carbonated beverages
- Lifestyle changes: reduce the amount of air you swallow by cutting down or quitting smoking, eat slower and chew more, avoid chewing gum
The foremost diagnostic "test" for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:
Gas is normal to a certain degree and may not be preventable. Keep a diary, writing down the foods and the amounts that seem to cause you the most problems. Also keep track of the number of times you pass gas each day.
Learn more about gas with resources from the National Institutes of Health