Flatulence is an overabundance of gas in either the stomach or the intestinal track. When this gas is expelled from the rectum it is referred to as passing gas. The gas can also be expelled through the mouth and this is called a belch. Gas is considered to be a normal body function and most people release gas around 14 times a day. When pain, swelling, and stomach discomfort accompanies flatulence, however, it can be the sign of a bigger medical problem.
There are many reasons why gas can occur. One of the most common reasons for an excessive amount of gas in the stomach is due to swallowing air. This can happen when foods are consumed too quickly, or it can be due to anxiety or stress. Drinking through a straw or smoking are also ways in which excessive air gets into the stomach. Slowing down while eating and being more aware of swallowing habits can help to eliminate this problem.
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Diet plays an important role in the amount of gas that is present in the stomach. Certain foods, including broccoli and beans, have a higher amount of carbohydrates than other types of foods. The digestive track can have a difficult time breaking down these sugary or starchy foods as they are passed to the large intestine. Bacteria in the intestine eventually processes the foods, which produces an overabundance of gas in the intestinal track, resulting in gas.
Certain diseases or conditions have an affect on the stomach, causing pressure and discomfort. Celiac disease can block the absorption of certain types of foods and if these foods are consumed, pain, abdominal bloating, and flatulence can occur. Cirrhosis of the liver is another condition that causes an inability to absorb the fats in food. These fats do not break down, which can cause a build-up within the liver and the result in a painful abdomen.
Average bouts of flatulence are normal, but when there is an excessive amount of gas felt for a long period of time, a health care profession should be seen to rule out any serious medical conditions. Typically, flatulence can be treated by avoiding certain foods, but there are also many over-the-counter medications that can address excessive gas and cramping. There are also medications that can be taken before consuming gas producing food that can help with any uncomfortable symptoms.