Why am I Gassy?

It is common to feel bloated (belch or fart) at times. For some people, it can cause stomachade. Most of these conditions related to gastro-intestinal flatus are normal physiological functions. Sometimes foods you eat or certain illnesses can cause your body to expel more gas. 


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What does flatulence mean?
What does flatulence mean?

Feeling gassy often means bloating, abdominal fullness, or pain. Sometimes this feeling causes frequent belching or gasping. Generally, this feeling is excessive gas production in the gastrointestinal tract. Some people are sensitive to gas in the GI tract, which can cause symptoms even if the gas in the GI tract is normal. Gas is common for people after eating certain foods. It is usually an one-off, and symptoms will be gone after the gas discharged. Sometimes these symptoms show certain signs of disease. Recent flatulence and abdominal distension, which are still not relieved or occur frequently after adjusting the diet, may indicate pathological conditions. Other abnormalities include abdominal distension with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Why do you have gas in your GI tract?
Why do you have gas in your GI tract?

Swallowed air

Gastrointestinal gas comes in part from your swallowing. Everyone swallows air, like when we  eat, drink, or chew gums. People who are anxious, or have a lot of postnasal discharge, or wear dentures swallow more air than others.


Gastrointestinal gas also comes from the foods you eat. Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide, which can increase gas in the gastrointestinal tract and often cause belching, and foods containing various sugars can also increase intestinal gas production. For some people, they cannot digest certain sugars well. These sugars will enter the large intestine and be decomposed by the bacteria to produce intestinal gas, which can cause stomachade, bloating, and flatulence.

What conditions can cause excess gas or bloating?
What conditions can cause excess gas or bloating?

Gastrointestinal gas or bloating may be caused by eating certain foods that are difficult to digest. Some people get bloating from eating high-fiber foods such as green leafy foods or beans. Some diseases can also affect the function of the gastrointestinal tract, and it is easy to cause increased gas production or abdominal distension in the gastrointestinal tract after eating certain foods, such as:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): In IBS patients, the bowel becomes sensitive to normal intestinal gas or mildly increased intestinal gas.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD causes acid reflux that can cause belching or bloating.

Lactose and fructose intolerance: Lactose intolerance refers to the inability of the patient's small intestine to break down lactose due to a lack of related enzymes. Lactose is commonly found in milk and related dairy products. After these patients eat dairy products, because the small intestine cannot break down lactose, lactose will be broken down by bacteria in the large intestine and produce gas. This is why lactose intolerance patients can cause abdominal pain and bloating after eating milk. Same for fructose intolerance, which is caused by the lack of corresponding enzymes in the body.


Small bowel bacterial overgrowth: Small bowel bacterial overgrowth involves having too many bacteria in the small intestine or a change in the type of bacteria in the small intestine.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can cause abdominal pain,

Constipation: Constipation is often caused by weakened intestinal peristalsis and difficulty in defecation. Bloating and flatulence are common manifestations of constipation.

Swallowing too much air: Swallowing too much air can cause gas and bloating. Common risk factors include:
- Anxiety
- Excessive discharge in the posterior nasal passages
- Dentures that are too loose
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Smoking
- Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy


Carbonated drinks: Avoid carbonated drinks such as soda, beer, carbonated water, or energy drinks in the first place. Avoiding carbonated drinks can reduce intestinal gas production, and drinking more water can also help improve constipation and reduce bloating.

FODMAPs: Some other foods to avoid, include milk products and foods that contain fermentable sugars (FODMAPs). FODMAPs stand for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides or polyols, which are difficult for some people to digest.

Examples of FODMAPs foods:
Fruits: such as apples, pears, peaches, watermelon
Vegetables: such as asparagus, broccoli, cabbage
Grains: e.g. wheat, rye
Artificial sweeteners, honey, agave syrup

Not everyone reacts the same to the same FODMAPs. Some people can tolerate some of them and others cannot. In general, low FODMAPs foods are only suitable for short-term adjustments. If you decide to avoid high FODMAPs foods, you can cut them out for a few weeks and try again to see if you still feel bloated. Talking to your nutritionist or doctor can help you decide whether a low-FODMAPs diet is right for you.

When does gas need emergency treatment? How to reduce bloating?
When does gas need emergency treatment? How to reduce bloating?

Sometimes gas is a sign of a serious problem that needs urgent attention, such as:
- Gastroparesis: gastric emptying is slower than normal, manifested as flatulence, nausea, vomiting and other significant manifestations.
- Intestinal obstruction: A blockage in one part of the bowel is a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention. Ileus can cause significant gas, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

Besides avoiding certain foods, are there other ways to reduce gas and bloating?
Besides avoiding certain foods, are there other ways to reduce gas and bloating?

Eating habits

- Changing the style of your diet can help reduce gas.
- Eat slowly and chew slowly.
- Eat while sitting, not while running, and talk as little as possible while eating.
- Sometimes a short walk after meal can help reduce gas.

OTC drugs

There are several OTC medications that can help you manage gas. These drugs include: activated charcoal, simethicone, and galactosidase (also known as fart-free beans). Activated charcoal and simethicone may be effective for some patients. And galactosidase has been shown to have a good effect on gas caused by high-fiber diets.

Look in the root

To avoid gas and bloating, it's important to look for possible causes of your symptoms:
- If you are constipated, increase your fiber intake, drink plenty of water, and exercise more often to improve constipation
- If you wear a denture, double check if the braces fit properly, adjusting the braces can also reduce gas
- Other causes, such as lactose intolerance, GERD, or celiac disease, require medical evaluation and treatment


Feeling gassy is common. Diet and eating habits can cause gassy. Changing your diet and eating habits can relieve gas and bloating. If these adjustments do not relieve symptoms, it's time to seek for medical consultation.

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