Many people experience abdominal discomfort or the embarrassment of too much intestinal gas, or flatulence. This excessive farting (or belching/burping) can be caused by a number of issues – and most of them can be resolved with either lifestyle change or medical flatulence treatment, or sometimes both.
Let’s look at the causes of flatulence, and what can be done about it.
What Causes Flatulence?
Excessive gas is produced in the digestive system when one of a few possible situations occurs.
Belching which is not accompanied by abdominal pain or flatulence usually involves air getting into the stomach, but not the intestines. This belching or burping is caused by swallowed air, which usually doesn’t cause gas in the intestines leading to flatulence. If swallowed air is the issue, it can be caused by eating too quickly, not chewing your food enough, or anxiety. Often learning new physical habits, such as a different pattern of breathing, can also be helpful.
Malabsorption of Sugars and Carbohydrates
Most excessive production of gas or increased flatulence in the digestive system actually begins in the upper intestines. While some gas further in the digestive system (the colon) is normal, usually there isn’t a lot of gas in the small intestine.
Lactose intolerance, the inability to digest milk products, can be a cause of gas being produced high in the digestive system. Another cause can be coeliac disease, an intolerance to gluten. Certain specific sugars such as sucrose, sorbitol, or fructose can trigger digestive issues which cause gas.
These issues are often genetically caused and can be identified with genetic testing or allergy testing. Once identified, usually lifestyle and dietary changes will resolve the issue with flatulence.
Rapid Intestinal Transit
Flatulence caused by this issue generally has a prior surgery as its root cause. Food is simply traveling too quickly through the intestines to be properly processed, which can happen when part of the intestine has been removed. There’s not enough time for digestion and absorption of your food, so sugars and carbohydrates aren’t processed as they normally would be, and reach the area of the colon in a not-completely-digested state, generating excessive gas as it ferments.
An individual with an intact intestine can still have this issue, which may be an indication that increased fiber in the diet or probiotic supplementation can be called for. If rapid intestinal transit is the cause of your excessive flatulence, working with your doctor to resolve your individual situation can provide relief.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is another common and very treatable cause of abdominal discomfort and excessive farting or flatulence. If you have SIBO, large numbers of gas-producing bacteria which are normally present in the colon have also populated the small intestine.
Your doctor or naturopath can work with you to get your gut bacteria back in balance, and while this process can take some time, you’ll feel much better afterward.
The uncomfortable and even serious symptoms of SIBO can seriously affect your quality of life, so resolving this issue can help much more than flatulence. SIBO can lead to issues with anxiety, depression, and even the inability to conceive a pregnancy due to systemic inflammation.
Flatulence Treatment At The Hong Kong Gut Health Centre
Our specialists at The Hong Kong Gut Health Centre take a team approach to resolving gut health issues. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable excessive flatulence or other abdominal discomfort, call us at (+852) 2523 8044 today to book an appointment. We can help you identify the true issue, and resolve it with flatulence treatment that works.