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Health Encylopedia

Gas/flatus - excessive
Definition Flatus or flatulence is air or gas in the intestine that is passed through the rectum. The expulsion of air from the digestive tract through the mouth is called belching or eructation .
Alternative Names Fullness after eating; Flatus - excessive; Sensation of gaseous abdominal fullness; Aerophagia; Excessive flatus/gas; Flatulence
Considerations Gas is formed in the large intestine as a result of the action of bacteria on undigested food. Intestinal distention from gas causes abdominal pain which may be crampy, colicky and sometimes severe. Inflammation of the intestinal wall may cause increased sensitivity to normal amounts of flatus. Even though it can cause discomfort, excessive gas is usually not a serious symptom.
Common Causes
  • air swallowed while eating, causing discomfort and fullness after eating (aerophagia)
  • eating non-digestible foods (such as excessive amounts of
  • fiber )
  • eating non-tolerated foods (as in
  • lactose intolerance )
  • acute pancreatitis
  • , chronic pancreatitis, or pancreatic insufficiency
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • (with
  • abdominal pain )
  • malabsorption
  • (inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract), often accompanied by
  • diarrhea
  • use of antibiotics
  • Home Care Intestinal gas may transiently increase after starting a high-fiber diet. The condition usually disappears without changing the diet. For gas due to swallowing air, eat slower, avoid gum chewing, and try to relax. Otherwise, follow prescribed therapy for treating the underlying cause.
    Call your health care provider if
  • the gas or flatus is persistent.
  • the gas is accompanied by other unexplained symptoms (such as pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or
  • weight loss ).
    What to expect at your health care provider's office The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed. Medical history questions documenting excessive gas in detail may include:
  • eating habits
  • What foods are commonly eaten?
  • What foods have been recently eaten?
  • How fast do you eat, chew, and swallow?
  • Have you changed your diet recently?
  • Have you recently increased the
  • fiber in your diet?
  • quality
  • Is it mild or severe?
  • aggravating factors
  • Does it occur after ingestion of milk products?
  • Does it occur only after ingestion of other foods? Which?
  • relieving factors
  • Is it better after withdrawal of milk products?
  • Is it better after withdrawal of other foods? Which foods?
  • What home treatment have you tried?
  • How effective was it?
  • other
  • What medications are being taken?
  • What other symptoms are also present? Especially, is there:
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • early satiety
  • (premature fullness after meals)
  • bloating
  • weight loss
  • The physical examination may include a detailed examination of the abdomen.
  • Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
  • barium enema
  • X-ray
  • barium swallow X-ray
  • blood studies such as
  • CBC or blood differential
  • sigmoidoscopy
  • abdominal ultrasound
  • abdominal CT scan
  • upper endoscopy (EGD)
  • After seeing your health care provider: You may want to add a diagnosis related to flatulence to your personal medical record.