What is gas?

The following are the ingredients that create gas in the digestive tract:

  • Breathing in the air
  • Certain foods are broken down by bacteria in the colon


Gas is something that everyone has. Gas can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but not life-threatening. You can either pass gas through your rectum or burp it. The average person produces between 1 and 4 pints of gas per day, and passes gas approximately 14 times per day.

The majority of gas is composed of odorless gases, such as carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen. The unpleasant smell of flatulence is caused by bacteria in the large intestinal tract.

What causes gas in the stomach?

Two sources of gas in the digestive tract are:

  • Aerophagia is the act of swallowing air. This can be caused by fast eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking or loose dentures.

    Belching is how most of the air that has been swallowed leaves the stomach. The gas is partially absorbed in the small intestine, while a small amount is absorbed into large intestine. It is then released through the rectum.

    • AbdominalX-ray
    • Food diary. It is possible to be asked to keep track of the foods and beverages you eat during a certain time period and/or count how many times you use gas each day.
    • Colonoscopy. Colorectal cancer may be considered for people over 50 and those with a history of the disease. Colonoscopy allows the doctor to see the entire length and extent of the large intestinal tract. It can help detect abnormal growths, bleeding, inflamed tissue, ulcers and bleeding. The procedure involves inserting a flexible, long-lasting, and lighted tube called a colonoscope into the colon through the rectum. The doctor can examine the lining of the colon and remove any tissue that may be needed to treat the problem.

      Colon is a harmless bacteria that breaks down certain undigested foods.

      Because of a lack or excess of enzymes, some carbohydrates (sugars, starches, fiber) cannot be digested or absorbed by the small intestine. The undigested or unabsorbed food is then passed into the large intestinale where normal bacteria breaks down the food. This produces hydrogen, carbon dioxide and, in approximately one-third of people, methane gas. These gases are then released via the rectum.

      What are the signs and symptoms of gas?

      Rarely are chronic symptoms caused by excessive gas or a serious illness. These are the most common signs of gas. Each person may experience different symptoms. Some symptoms include:

      • Belching. It is normal to belch after or during meals. However, people who belch often may be swallowing too many air particles and releasing them before it enters their stomachs.

        Chronic belching could also indicate an upper GI disorder such as pepticul disease, gastroesophageal regurgitation disease (GERD), or gastritis.

        The NIDDK lists the following rare chronic gas syndromes that can be associated with belching:

        • Meganblase syndrome. Chronic belching is caused by Meganblase syndrome. This syndrome is characterised by chronic belching and severe air swallowing. This disorder can mimic a heart attack by causing shortness or fullness of breath.
        • Gas-bloat syndrome. After GERD surgery, gas-bloat syndrome can occur. Surgery creates a one way valve between the stomach and esophagus that allows gas and food to pass through the stomach.
      • Flatulence. Flatulence is when gas passes through the rectum. Normal is gas passing 14 to 23 times per day.
      • Bloating is a common symptom of abdominal bloating. Bloating is often caused by an intestinal motility disorder such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Motility disorders can be described as abnormal movements or contractions in the intestinal muscles. This may cause a false feeling of bloating due to increased gas sensitivities.
        • Splenic-flexure Syndrome is a chronic condition that can be caused by gas trapped in bends (flexures).
        • Crohn’s disease, Colon Cancer or any other disease that can cause intestinal obstruction may also lead to abdominal bloating.
        • Bloating and pain may be caused by internal hernias, adhesions (scar tissue), or after surgery.
        • Fattening foods can slow down stomach emptying, cause discomfort, and cause bloating. However, this is not always a problem.
      • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen. Some people experience pain from gas in their intestines. The pain caused by gas in the intestine can sometimes be mistaken for heart disease. It can feel similar to pain from gallstones and appendicitis if it accumulates on the right side.

      Gas symptoms may look similar to other medical conditions. For a diagnosis, consult your doctor.

      How can gas in the digestive system be diagnosed?

      Gas symptoms may indicate a serious condition. Your doctor may recommend the following activities to help you diagnose:

    • Sigmoidoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy allows the doctor to inspect the inside of a large intestine. It is useful in diagnosing problems such as diarrhea, constipation and abnormal growths. Through the rectum, a short, flexible, and lighted tube is introduced into the intestine. To inflate the intestine and allow for easier viewing, the scope blows air into it.
    • Barium swallow is also known as the upper GI (gastrointestinal series). Your doctor may order an upper GI series to examine chronic belching. The upper GI series, a diagnostic test, examines the organs in the upper part (esophagus and stomach) of the digestive system. The fluid is called barium, which is a metallic, chemical, and chalky liquid that coats the organs to make them visible on an X-ray. The digestive organs are then evaluated using X-rays.

    Gas in the stomach

    Your doctor will determine the best treatment for gas in your digestive tract based on:

    • Your health history, age, and overall health.
    • The extent of the condition
    • Tolerance to specific drugs, procedures, and therapies
    • Expectations regarding the course of the condition
    • Your opinion or preference

    Gastric acid prevention

    These are the most popular ways to reduce gas discomfort:

    • Dietary changes
    • Medications
    • Reduce the amount of air ingested

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