University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Flatulence

Flatulence Handout

What is Flatulence?
Flatulence is excessive formation of gas in the digestive tract. It sometimes can be the cause of se­vere pain, distention and bloating, as well as social embarrassment.

What causes it?
Most flatus is caused by bacteria in the colon, which ferment undigested food and create gas as a by-product. Swallowing air also contributes to the amount of gas in the intestines. Chewing gum, there­fore, should be restricted if increased flatulence is a problem. In addition, certain foods likely to increase intestinal gas may be eliminated.

These include:
•legumes (dried peas and beans)

•broccoli

•cabbage

•cauliflower

•corn

•cucumbers

•onions

•turnips

Some other suggestions include:
•Foods containing large amounts of air, i.e. car­bonated beverages, whips and meringues may be avoided.

•If you are increasing the fiber content of your diet, do so gradually so the bowel becomes used to it.

•Do not use a straw when drinking. This incor­porates more air into the digestive tract.

•Eat slowly and chew with your mouth closed.

OTC Remedies
•Simethicone is a defoaming agent. It causes gas bubbles to be broken down or coalesced into a form that can be eliminated more easily by belching or pass­ing flatus. Simethicone is available by itself as Gas-X or Mylanta-Gas, or in combination with an antacid in Maalox Plus or Mylanta.

•Beano is the brand name of a product contain­ing an enzyme that decreases the gassiness or bloat­ing that results from eating various grains, cereals and legumes (e.g., oats, beans, lentils, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, onions, corn, etc.) It is added to the offending food prior to consumption. Beano is also available in pill form which must be taken before eat­ing.

If flatulence accompanies a major change in bowel habits, see your care provider.