Intestinal Gas

Everyone has occasional bouts of flatulence (increased flatus), the passing of gas from the rectum. When you are experiencing this problem over a long period of time there are a number of considerations. Bacteria which are normal residents of the colon can consume foodstuffs which our bodies are not digesting normally. The waste products of these bacteria can be hydrogen and methane gas which can dramatically increase flatus.

1.Chewing gum and hard candies, especially sugarless gum or dietetic candies that contain sorbitol, can increase flatus because sorbitol is not well digested by some individuals, and their intestinal bacteria can convert the sorbitol to gas.

2.Milk and milk-products contain lactose. It is estimated that 25% of the American public is lactose intolerant. In these individuals, lactose is incompletely digested allowing the intestinal bacteria to convert the lactose to gas. Testing can be performed to measure lactose intolerance. There is a commercially available product (Lactaid and comparable generics) which can help these individuals digest milk. Strict avoidance of milk and milk-products can cause severe adverse effects because these foods are a major source of calcium, an important nutrient.

3.When a high fiber diet is initially started, some of the fiber can be converted by the bacteria into gas. There is an adaptation to this over time and the amount of gas produced will often decrease. Some individuals will however have a persistent problem with one or more of the high fiber foods such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bran, beans, broccoli, and cabbage. This can be determined by an elimination diet. Because a high fiber diet is recommended for the general public, another commercial product (BEANO) may be prescribed.

4. Carbonated beverages can be an obvious source of flatus.

5.Ill fitting dentures can cause an increase in swallowed air, another source of intestinal gas.

6. An increase in physical activity such as calisthenics, walking, and jogging can stimulate the normal progression of digestion and can help control flatulence.

7.Occasionally a severe increase or persistence in flatus can represent a more serious medical condition and further testing may be necessary.