Is Excessive Flatulence Bad for You?

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Flatulence. Embarrassing, yes. But can it be bad for you if it gets out of control? Learn more about excessive flatulence, what you can do, and when to see a doctor.

Background

  • Flatulence (also know as farting) is the release of a mixture of gasses and other byproducts of digestion. It is common to all mammals and to all humans. The gasses themselves are called "flatus."

What's Normal?

  • Occasional flatulence is completely healthy and normal, and there is nothing that can be done about it. But at what point does it become possibly unhealthy? The National Institutes of Health claim the average human releases one to four pints per day of flatus, roughly 14 to 28 instances of passing gas.

Causes

  • Excessive flatulence can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome or some or other less-common diseases. It can also be the result of eating foods too rich in certain sugars (especially lactose), starches and fiber. Try changing your diet. If that doesn't work, you may have a more serious condition; consult a doctor for treatment.

Warning

  • While flatulence itself isn't dangerous, holding it in can be, as refusing to release the gas can result in distention of the bowel and, consequently, constipation.

Treatments

  • At-home treatments for what some may feel is excessive flatulence usually involve a change in diet and the occasional use of over-the-counter products such as Beano or Lactaid. Beano is a sugar-digestive enzyme that may work if you've consumed beans or certain vegetables. Lactaid may work if you've consumed a lot of dairy products.

Fun Fact

  • Flatulence from farm animals has been incorrectly blamed for an increase of greenhouse gasses,and, hence, global climate change. Livestock do cause methane emissions, but this is largely from burping or exhaling.

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of David
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