Flatulence results from the production of gas by bacteria within the intestines (usually the colon) when they digest dietary sugars and polysaccharides that reach the colon undigested. Increased gas is not caused by the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or most parasitic or bacterial intestinal infections.
Increased gas is not caused by the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or most parasitic or bacterial intestinal infections. It also is not caused by gastritis, gastric cancer, gallstones, cholecystitis, and pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis (unless there is maldigestion of food). It also should not be confused with indigestion which has causes other than gas.
Excessive production of gas and increased flatulence may occur because of:
- The greater ability of some bacteria to produce gas.
- Maldigestion or malabsorption of sugars and polysaccharides such as that seen in chronic pancreatitis with pancreatic insufficiency, celiac disease.
- Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine.
Abdominal pain is not a common symptom of people with excessive gas although the discomfort of bloating may be described as pain. Cramps and severe pain suggest causes other than gas, for example, intestinal obstruction that also can lead to abdominal distention and discomfort.
Remedies for truly excessive gas include changes in diet and suppression of intestinal bacteria that produce the gas. There is no evidence that digestive enzymes, activated charcoal, and simethicone (Gas-X, Mylanta, and others).
The remedy for excessive belching not due to excessive gas is by learning new physical habits such as breathing with the mouth open.
Foul smelling gas (flatus) is not synonymous (the same) with excessive gas. The foul smell of flatus results from the types of food that are eaten and the types of gasses produced by the bacteria in the colon, particularly gasses that contain sulfur.