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What you can do about farting and belching

Keep a diary

If you really want to get to grips with the problem, keep a diary of what and when you eat for a week. Also note when you pass wind, and whether it is mild, moderate or severe each time. This may help you to pinpoint foods or drinks that are responsible. 

Minimizing belching

  • Avoid fizzy drinks and hot drinks.
  • Do not rush your food. When you gulp food you swallow more air.
  • Do not overeat. To avoid gas, it is better to eat little and often.
  • Chew your food properly. This helps the saliva to work on it so it is properly digested, and you are less likely to swallow air with food that is chewed small than with large lumps.
  • Do not use chewing gum, and try to avoid sucking on pen tops.
  • Stop smoking.

Minimizing flatulence

  • Pay attention to the advice for minimizing belching to reduce swallowed air. Some swallowed air may be passed as flatulence instead of belching.
  • Try to avoid large quantities of gas-forming foods but make sure you eat enough fruit and vegetables to avoid constipation and give yourself a balanced diet. The carbohydrates in many foods (such as potatoes, rice, corn and wheat products) are well absorbed so will not worsen flatulence. Dietary fibres, such as bran and cellulose, are also innocent, because they are not converted to gases by gut bacteria.
  • Do not suddenly increase the amount of fibre in your diet; the gut needs to get used to increased fibre gradually.
  • Avoid slimming foods containing sorbitol. Some people find that reducing their intake of ordinary sugar helps.
  • Remove 80% of the most troublesome carbohydrates from dried beans by covering them with water, bringing them to the boil and boiling for 10 minutes, turning off the heat and letting them soak for 4 hours. Drain off the water, replace with fresh water and cook the beans according to your recipe. Or use tinned beans.
  • Take plenty of exercise. This helps to keep the bowel moving normally.
  • Avoid tight clothing.
  • Try taking a charcoal tablet (available from pharmacies), or eating a charcoal biscuit (available from health stores) before a meal.
  • Your doctor might be willing to give you a course of broad-spectrum antibiotic. This can sometimes help by changing the balance of bacteria in the gut.
  • Anti-wind products can be bought from pharmacies. They disperse bubbles of trapped wind by creating larger bubbles that can pass out of the system. They may relieve your discomfort, but may make you fart and belch even more.
  • Beano (see Useful contacts) is a product containing the enzyme galactosidase, which is said to make gassy carbohydrate foods more digestible. It is made from a mould, so avoid it if you are allergic to moulds or penicillin. You take it just before your first bite of food. It is available from some pharmacies and health-food stores. 

Disguising wind

  • If you make a smell in the lavatory, light a match – this makes the smell disappear as if by magic. Considerate people keep a box of matches by the lavatory for this purpose.
  • If you have a serious flatulence problem, you might consider special pants that have a large replaceable carbon filter in the seat. This filter removes the smelly chemicals. The other parts of the pants are airtight, so wind can escape only by passing through the filter.
  •  

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 ntombifuthi on 11/08/2015 at 04:30

I have found the advice so helpfull as I always thought food with fibre is always good and acidic is problematic.I will start reducing fibre, avoid fuzzy drinks and chewing gum. Thank you Dr.

Posted by Kathrine on 29/11/2014 at 04:03

Hi, Flatulence can be cured by using commonly used herbs and spices available in almost every kitchen; one of the most effective treatments is by mixing half teaspoon of ginger and pinches each of asafetida and rock salt in a cup of lukewarm water. Drinking this concoction can cure the problem of flatulence. Another very effective remedy to cure flatulence can be made and kept for regular use; it is made by mixing dry ginger, seeds of green cardamom and pepper, in equal quantities, and grinding it to form a powder. This powder half teaspoon in quantity can be mixed with a cup of water and consumed before every meal, this helps in improving digestive system to cure the problem of flatulence. Peppermint usually used for refreshing mouth after the meal is very effective remedy for flatulence and peppermint oil has been used since a long time to provide permanent solution to the problem. Chewing peppermint after meals helps in improving digestive system and soothes the digestive tract; it avoids bloating and abdominal pain after meal. Peppermint oil with caraway oil is used in various medications as a cure for flatulence. Sucking a piece of clove after meal, chewing fennel seeds after meal and using ginger in the food in raw or cooked form also helps in curing flatulence effectively and permanently. Increased intake of fruits like papaya, figs, guava, and banana helps in keeping the problem of excess flatus under control by helping digestion. Few people have irregular eating habit, such a routine promotes flatulence too, regularizing meals and not remaining hungry for a long time, eating smaller and regular meals also helps in curing the problem of flatulence permanently. Physical activity keeps digestive organs in shape and healthy which eventually prevents flatulence. Chewing food well before swallowing, sufficient amount of water consumption everyday and proper sleep are other factors which affect the formation of gas during digestion, ignoring these good habits can reduce the effects of remedies and one may not get effective treatment. P.S. I found the other 5 most effective gas remedies at http://fullnomore.com

Posted by Gordon Stokey on 29/03/2014 at 08:36

Cut out the grain/cereal based foods from your diet and the flatulence will disappear on 72 hours

Posted by Sofia on 15/07/2013 at 07:42

I have a lot of gas problem to level of me constantly fart it make the whole room smell, I can go to event and it's hard for me to go work as well I really need help. Plus I recently got married and I get mood swing all the time cos if this it's affecting my married plus I can't tell my husband what the problem is as I feel quite embrassed. Please help me I don't know who to turn to personal myself I think the problem in my head and not my body.

Posted by joy on 02/12/2012 at 04:55

HELP; I THINK I WILL BURROW DOWN AND NOT COME OUT AGAIN I CANT GO ANYWHERE WITH THIS PROBLEM I HAVE TO MAKE EXCUESS AND GO TO THE TOILET OFTEN AND ITS LONG AND VERY SMELLY THE CHARCOL TABLETS HELPED IMMENSILY BUT THEY RAN OUT!

Posted by Optional on 24/06/2011 at 04:10, United Kingdom

i keep farting a lot very smelly every 1o mins the smell makes me sick been having trouble with wind quite a while

Posted by Daly on 21/06/2011 at 07:04, United Kingdom

It has started first with constipation.Then I was told hernia hiatus.could not belch or pass wind.Now have phlegm in my stools,throat and left nose. Can belch now and pass a bit of wind but breath,through nose and mouth smell the poop.Doctors always dismiss me.taken a lot of esomoprazole for four years. I am getting nowhere and it is serious. Can you help? Thanks.

Posted by Optional on 28/07/2010 at 08:29, United Kingdom

Peppermint oil (in capsule form) helps reduce trapped wind.

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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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