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Reasons for farting and belching

Foods that cause flatulence

Onions, tomatoes and mints actually relax the muscle at the lower end of the gullet, allowing air from the stomach to escape by belching.

Farting is more to do with bacteria in the lower bowel that are particularly partial to carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in some foods cannot be broken down and absorbed in the intestine; they pass straight through to the bowel, where they are fermented by the bacteria to produce gas that comes out as farting. Beans are famous for containing large amounts of unabsorbable carbohydrate, but other foods can have the same effect.
 
Some slimming chocolate contains sorbitol or fructose instead of sugar. Most of this is not absorbed (which is why these products are marketed for slimmers), but can be acted on by the large bowel bacteria to cause wind. Consumption of fruit juices is increasing and, because they contain a lot of fructose, they can cause gas and bloating.
 
Foods with a high proportion of unabsorbable carbohydrate that cause flatulence
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Broccoli, cauliflower
  • Jerusalem artichokes and other root vegetables such as parsnips
  • Slimming foods that contain sorbitol or fructose
  • Raisins, prunes
  • Apples
  • Fruit juices (because of the fructose they contain)
Overeating, as we all know, leads to belching. This is because the stomach normally contains some air. When we overeat, the stomach attempts to relieve the discomfort and distension by expelling the stomach air upwards. This is a reflex over which we have no control.
 
Fizzy drinks and gulping hot drinks introduce gas into the stomach.
 
Habit. Some people suck a small amount of air into the oesophagus (gullet) or stomach by swallowing to make themselves belch, without realizing they are doing so (Gut 2004;53:1561). This habit often starts if there is a period of indigestion, when belching may temporarily relieve the discomfort.
 
Smoking, chewing gum and sucking on pen tops makes you produce more saliva, which has to be swallowed. Each time you swallow the saliva you also swallow air. Also, chewing gum contains sorbitol.
 
Tight clothing, such as Lycra shorts, constricting belts and hold-in underwear increase the pressure on the abdomen and make it more difficult for wind to pass along normally, resulting in trapped wind and belching.
 
Acarbose is a drug sometimes used for diabetes. It prevents enzymes in the gut digesting carbohydrates such as starch and sucrose. Because they are not digested, these carbohydrates are not absorbed (which is how the drug helps to lower the blood sugar). Instead, they pass down to the lower bowel, where they are fermented by the bacteria. Most people taking acarbose experience flatulence, tummy rumbles and a feeling of fullness.
 
Intestinal diseases are occasionally responsible. In lactase deficiency, for example, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, a carbohydrate found in milk, is lacking. The undigested lactose produces hydrogen and carbon dioxide when it reaches the large bowel, causing frothy diarrhoea, griping pains and flatulence.
 
Constipation can cause farting. Normally, most of the intestinal gas is expelled out of the anus as small puffs which we are not aware of. When we are constipated, the gas becomes trapped behind the faeces and then suddenly emerges as a noticeable amount. Also, when we are constipated, the food residues stay in the bowel for longer, and have more time to ferment and give off gases. (For more information, look at the section on constipation.)
 
Anxiety and tension seem to make wind worse. This is partly because when we are anxious we are hyper-alert, and notice body functions that we would otherwise ignore. Another factor is that when we are anxious we tend to swallow more air. Also, our guts become more active because of increased adrenaline levels and they expel the gases more forcefully.
 
Childbirth. After childbirth, the muscles of the anus or the nerves nearby can be damaged, making it difficult to hold wind in. This is much more common than many people realize. A study in Sweden found that 25% of women were unable to control wind 5 months after giving birth, particularly if they had a long labour. The problem did improve a few months later. Sometimes, there may also be some leakage of faeces (for more information, look at the section on faecal incontinence). If your problem started after having a baby and does not get better, see your doctor because an operation may cure the problem.
 
Ageing may make gas worse, because as we get older we do not produce digestive juices, such as saliva, as efficiently. This means that more carbohydrate foods pass untouched to the lower bowel, where they are fermented by the bacteria.

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Tuesday, October 4th 2011

 


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Comments on this article

Posted by Optional on 21/10/2014 at 01:28

How to prevent a rumbling tummy. It's so embarrassing

Posted by Optional on 02/10/2014 at 12:26

The reason why we all fart and burp so much is one you're all overlooking. I can guarantee that you've all got a lot worse since the internet was invented. That's because we're all sitting for longer periods looking at a computer screen for endless hours and at the same time squashing up our stomachs. The best answer would be to get more exercise and spend less time online. Unfortunately, the world has changed so it's unlikely to happen!

Posted by Optional on 29/09/2014 at 10:24

Having stinging like pains in upper abdominal area on both sides, also a lot of belching. What might be the cause?

Posted by tonyl on 29/09/2014 at 07:44

I cant seem to keep my true love. Every morning sometimes in the day I pass wind. I get a bulg in my right side of abdomen usually. it so depressing. Every day I feel tired after the wind has passed. Its almost ike this thing has ruined my life. Iv been to the doctor 10 times about but he dont seem to think much of it. Now my whole body smells of some weird smells obiously not normal and not many people stand next to me for long. Its makes me angry especialy when I get dumped by my sexy lady. I really wish my doctor would help me out here. I gave up smoking tried eating a balanced diet internet info no good sometimes eg brockoly is good sometimes bad doesnt make sense. What a life destroyer it really isnt funny im not laughing im going to end up in a nut house if it dont go away seriously I lost my girl.

Posted by Bev on 27/09/2014 at 02:48

Hello. I'm wondering if anyone can help. I'm 30 years old, female and gave been type 1 diabetic since the age of 17. From then I have suffered stomach problems, excessive wind (both ends lol) constipation, sometimes loose stools, bloating, and really smelly burps like rotten eggs. I have had tests done by the doctors but am no further forward. At first they thought it could be ibs and prescribed my mebeverine hydrochloride but made no difference, I cut out lactose but still no difference. Now it is driving me insane. It can happen every other day but sometimes I can go weeks or even a few months without any problems. Does anyone else suffer from this or have any advice please, not only is it affecting my day to day life but it is very embarrassing too, especially when my partner can't stand the smell of my burps,

Posted by Olivia on 06/06/2014 at 06:57

I pass wind a hell of a lot, & swelled hard stomach ?

Posted by rockchick on 05/06/2014 at 08:29

Seem to have wind loads and it smells

Posted by Optional on 28/05/2014 at 05:21

Encouraging

Posted by Optional on 08/05/2014 at 07:26

Thank you this very helped

Posted by Optional on 05/02/2014 at 08:47

I've had a problem with my bowels for as long as I can remember now and it's really beginning to annoy me and others. I had surgery around 5 years ago to fix a hiatus hernia in my stomach....could this be the cause? I'm either constipated with a massive ammount of wind or got the runs with wind( yes sometimes I follow through.. Especially at the weekend when I have a few pints Lol )Tried everything.... Please help.

Posted by cheryl on 09/12/2013 at 11:15

just had bowel surgery 2 weeks ago, (repositoning my stoma) now im finding im farting louder more than before and its really embarrassing.

Posted by grewal on 06/12/2013 at 04:17

really helpfull thanx doctor

Posted by Optional on 03/10/2013 at 06:52

Recently developed farting and burping and inability to swallow food. Started taking 2 Dennie's to see if it helps.

Posted by mukoso on 22/09/2013 at 08:39

I'm always pufing to much and have to much air in my stomach what is the cause

Posted by lee on 03/08/2013 at 01:01

thank you i produce a lot of saliver and eat to excess i intend to cut down on my food intake and have my main meal for lunch i should sleep better with less wind pain at night

Posted by babe on 21/04/2013 at 11:42

I have terrible bloating it gets so bloated that I look pregnant & it gets very painful,what can I do to stop this problem.& its really embarrasing as I can't hold the wind,I went for a colonoscopy,but they dint find anything,plz help

Posted by Optional on 19/04/2013 at 02:39

I think being over weight can cause a lots of gas.

Posted by Amanda on 08/04/2013 at 04:22

I've noticed a difference in the amount of gas I pass each day since going gluten free. I've also cut back on carbs in general. Also, I noticed someone asked something about fructose gas...unfortunately, the only thing you can do is cut down on fructose. Yes, fruits are good for us. That being said, most fructose people consume isn't straight from a piece of fruit...its from juices, teas or sodas with fructose added, fruit pastries, etc. Read the ingredient list on everything you usually eat or drink and just cut back on anything with added fructose.

Posted by Optional on 27/03/2013 at 12:24

I gave birth about a month ago it was a long labour and noticed about 2 days afterwards that I would pass alot of smelly wind and it hasn't stopped since. So embarrassing, I can't hold it back either. I feel I can't go anywhere where I will be close to people cause I know without warning I will accidently pass wind and it will smell. I know time will make things better and recovery is slow after carrying a child to term and having a long labour.. I read the fact sheet about it and was quite relieved to know I'm not the only one with this amazingly embarrassing problem...

Posted by Jummy on 20/02/2013 at 08:56

I don't usually fart before child birth but eversince I gave birth,I've been farting seriously. What can I do?

Posted by sue on 05/01/2013 at 11:00

does having celiac decease make you burp or fart?? especially at night? plus I have a little pain in my stomach.. thank you sue

Posted by Optional on 04/12/2012 at 12:57

I HAVE A REALLY BAD GAS PROBLEM! HELP!!!

Posted by Optional on 10/10/2012 at 04:24

Hi, I have a problem that every time I eat within say half an hour I am passing wind which is sometimes quite pungent! it seems to be all food that I eat, could it be an bacteria in the gut that i need to flush out, I have had colonic irrigation and that didn't seem to cure it, I really don't know what to do, should i perhaps take a pre-biotic or what could you suggest. Kind Regards Sally

Posted by Optional on 15/09/2012 at 06:45

helpful

Posted by belong PUNE on 18/08/2012 at 09:18

I have suffering farting problem last 15months. Please advice me as I am paient of Highblood pressure. Can Onion reduces farting. can turmeric power control farting thanks

Posted by Kosi maduekwe on 08/07/2012 at 08:03

I want to remove the gas in my stomach and also know the things i can eat and do not to have them because i want to be flexible

Posted by Optional on 12/06/2012 at 04:36

This has just started bout six months ago and is very embarrasing, i pass wind up to maybe 20 times every few days, also i think i may have IBS and this may be a factor to my problem, anyone help me please??

Posted by Jane on 10/06/2012 at 11:34

I've suffered from this embarrassing problem of excess wind for over 50 years, the last 10 years have been the worst as I now cannot control the passing of wind because of injuries that occurred when I gave birth 30 years ago, the nerves were damaged and now I'm getting old I can't control the farting. Very embarrassing in a quiet environment.

Posted by Trevor on 08/03/2012 at 01:56

i have this very very bad fart especially at night sometimes i dont even realise that i m farting when sleeping just hear the smell now my wife wants to sleep with kids could that be the reason of being diabetic or what.....and my age is fourty please help dont know what to do

Posted by Optional on 26/12/2011 at 04:48

well done. I LEARNED A LOT FOR THE CAUSES. THANKS

Posted by Optional Helen on 10/11/2011 at 10:10

When I have a bad headache, i know it is starting to get better once i start belclhing, it seems to relieve the pressure. why ?

Posted by Optional on 23/10/2011 at 03:31

What can prevent it? The only 2 things that ring true are tension and anxiety and a lot of milk. Gas-X doesn't do a thing. I don't eat the normal foods that create these problems. lots of medications cause dry mouth causing me to chew gum a lot.

Posted by GLUTEN FREE-Celiac Disease on 27/09/2011 at 08:37, United States

This article was very interesting and helpful, although you did not mention other food allergies such as Celiac Disease. I was recently diagnosed, with just a simple blood test for the allergy to wheat. Celiac Disease is when your stomach cannot properly digest the ingredients wheat, barley, and oats(flour,malt). The villa hairs in the digestive system are burnt off from eating those ingredients. Since I have changed my diet, I have felt a huge difference in my digestive system and much more energy. My stomach is still in the healing process ( which can take up to a year or longer). The disease is very common and the symptoms can be extremely suddle. Some symptoms include consistant: fatigue,constipation, diahrea, gas, bloating,sickly paleness, and pimple like bumps on the arms.

Posted by Optional on 11/08/2011 at 09:18, United States

i never used to fart ever, and now i have been loseing weight ( i was a normal weigt for my height before) i have been eating really extra healthy and now i fart non stop? why?

Posted by vwexahe on 10/07/2011 at 06:14, United Kingdom

does masturbatin make passing wind more active.. i masturbate and den nned to go toilet after i hace ejacuted for a number 2 or pass alot of wind..

Posted by Optional on 28/06/2011 at 09:45, United Kingdom

With non reason ,my stomag is bigger people ask me if i am pregnat ,and i do fart a lot ,can you please help ?

Posted by Maximus on 13/05/2011 at 01:20, United Kingdom

D, who posted about being light headed. See your doctor asap. That doesn't sound normal at all. Good luck!

Posted by D on 13/03/2011 at 02:09, United Kingdom

I have been troubled all my life with wind , it seems to run in my family . But far a long time now when I pass wind its sooo forceful and makes me light headed . what would cause this

Posted by jan on 22/02/2011 at 08:14, United Kingdom

i need to stop the belching and worse farting as we are going on a 26 hour flight!

Posted by Val on 23/01/2011 at 05:47, South Africa

In the last 6 months or so I have started farting, mainly when I get up in the morning. I am very noisy! I would love to find a cure.

Posted by Optional on 13/01/2011 at 01:07, United Kingdom

Great information - very informative! Thank you.

Posted by alan on 09/12/2010 at 01:30, United Kingdom

huge amount of belching and farting and bloated nausea.Stools pretty normal but this incessant feeling of nausea getting me down .Any advice

Posted by Optional on 28/10/2010 at 09:21, South Africa

my stomach is all of a sudden full of gas (a lot) I fart constantly and the smell is really bad. I also have stomach cramps sometimes and some gastro

Posted by Anonymous on 29/09/2010 at 06:39, United Kingdom

I have suffered for years with chest and stomach pains and extreme flatulence and bloating caused by my inability to burp. I appear to be one of many who have this problem.Can you help as this is affecting my life considerably. Thank you

Posted by Muhammad Abul Hossain,PhD on 26/08/2010 at 12:01, Bangladesh

It is an illuminating article. I shall apply your suggestions and give you my feedback.

Posted by FRUITI FARTI on 19/08/2010 at 09:46, United Kingdom

YES BUT NO SOLUTIONS! EATING FRUIT IS GOOD TELL US OF PRODUCTS TO BREAK DOWN FRUCTOSE. E.G. I CAN GET A LACTASE ENZYME PILL BEFORE EAT DAIRY FROM HEALTH SHOPS, IS THERE THE SAME FOR FRUIT?

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Fascinating facts

Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Cow's and sheep's wind is responsible for almost a third of the methane in Europe that passes into the atmosphere. A single sheep typically produces 25 litres of methane a day, while a cow can produce an amazing 280 litres a day (New Scientist 15 June 2002)

In the 1960s, NASA was worried that a build-up of hydrogen from astronauts' wind might accidentally explode in the spacecraft. This stimulated a lot of research into bowel gas

At any one time, there is about 200 mL (a mugful) of gas in each person's gut

Most people expel about 600 mL of gas/day, but some people produce up to 2 litres

Gut gases are 90% nitrogen; the remainder is carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane and sometimes hydrogen sulphide

Healthy young men break wind 14-25 times a day and women half as often

Women produce stronger smelling flatus than men, but men produce a greater volume

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