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Digestive Health

What are the symptoms of excessive gas?

A Answers (1)

  • ABill Salt, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
    Excessive gas can refer to one of four different symptoms. First, some patients refer to abdominal pain or discomfort as "gas." This may require medical investigation.

    The second symptom is aerophagia, which refers to a repetitive pattern of swallowing or ingesting air that results in belching. Patients with aerophagia may belch to relieve abdominal discomfort. The air swallowing is usually an unconscious process that is unrelated to eating. Most of the time, chronic troublesome and repetitive aerophagia resulting in belching is diagnosed as functional aerophagia.

    Third, gas may refer to perceived excessive rectal gas or flatulence (farting). Everyone produces gas and everyone passes it rectally. The amount of intestinal gas varies from individual to individual, and there is a wide range of what is considered normal. Scientific studies show that it is normal to pass up to 20 farts per day, so it is important to determine whether the number of farts passed per day is greater than 20. Flatulence may or may not have a bad smell. Flatulence occurs when indigestible carbohydrates pass into the colon, where they cannot be absorbed. Bacterial fermentation of these carbohydrates produces gas. Treatment of flatulence is primarily dietary, but may also include medication or natural remedies.

    Fourth, some patients consider functional bloating and distention to be a gas problem. Bloating and gas problems with belching and/or flatulence may or may not coexist. Some who suffer with bloating complain of difficulty passing gas orally or rectally. Bloating is a common symptom in those who have a problem with excessive belching. By contrast, many who complain of excessive flatulence do not report bloating.
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What are the symptoms of gas in the digestive tract?