When Should You Worry About Passing Too Much Gas?

Call it passing gas, breaking wind, or farting—most healthy people do it between eight and 14 times a day, although up to 25 times a day can be normal.

If you fart more than the typical person, you may wonder what's going on in your digestive tract and whether your gas is a symptom of a more serious health problem.

This article covers several reasons you may be having excessive gas. It also discusses what you can do to reduce gas and bloating, and when to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Woman running with gas pain

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Excessive Gas Symptoms

If you think you're passing more gas than normal, your doctor may ask you to count how many times you pass gas daily. They may also recommend that you start a food and drink journal to see if the gas is related to your diet.

Be sure to write down any other symptoms you might be having, such as:

It's normal to have these symptoms after you eat, but you should really take note if you are having them often or if they are getting in the way of your daily activities.

Does the Smell Mean Anything?

The smell is a result of the gasses made in your small intestine and colon during digestion. This mainly depends on the food you eat.

Some food items may cause your gas to smell worse than others. For example, animal proteins, like eggs and meat, can cause foul-smelling gas. Soluble fiber, like that found in fruits and vegetables, can cause gas too, but it won't smell as bad.

A foul smell doesn't mean anything by itself, but it can be quite embarrassing when it happens around other people.

Recap

It's normal to fart up to 25 times per day. It's also normal to have gas symptoms after you eat, like burping, bloating, or a swollen tummy. You should contact your doctor if you are having these symptoms more often or if they are bothering you.

Causes

Excessive gas can be triggered by habits, food, and some health conditions.

Swallowing Air

You might not realize it, but some habits might cause you to swallow extra air. Even if you burp much of that extra air back out, some can remain in your stomach. Eventually, it needs to be released from your body as gas.

Some common habits that may cause you to swallow air frequently include:

Anxiety can also cause you to swallow more air because, when your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, you breathe more quickly. If this is the cause of your excessive gas, your first step will be to address your anxiety.

Foods and Drinks

Most people know what foods will upset their stomach and cause them to bloat or pass gas. For instance, cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower and broccoli, are known for causing gas. Eating lots of carbohydrates, such as pasta and bread, can also cause extra gas. 

Other foods and drinks that may give you excessive gas include:

  • Lentils and beans
  • Milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products
  • Soy products, such as tofu and soy milk
  • Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, asparagus, artichokes, onions, mushrooms, sprouts, and cucumbers
  • Fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, and fruit juices
  • Whole grains and bran
  • Carbonated drinks and those with high-fructose corn syrup
  • Alcohol, especially beer, which is also carbonated
  • Sugar-free gum and candies that contain sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol

People may react in different ways to these foods. Some foods may cause severe gas for one person, but none at all for another.

As you get older, you may have more problems with these foods than you did when you were younger.

Many foods that cause gas are also good for you. If you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables, excessive gas might simply be a sign that you are eating a healthy diet. Many people note that starting a healthier diet with lots of colorful, fiber-rich foods causes them to have more gas.

Health Conditions

Excessive gas is usually caused by things you eat and drink or the habits that cause you to swallow extra air. But gas can also be a symptom of certain health conditions, including:

When to See Your Doctor

If your gas and bloating concern you, get in touch with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. They will check your history and symptoms to see if they point towards a health condition that can cause excessive gas. Many of these are treatable.

Before your visit, keep a diary of what you are eating, drinking, and doing. Write down when you have excessive gas and see if you can can count how many times you fart per day.

Let your doctor know about any new or uncomfortable symptoms you are having along with gas. Your doctor will explore your symptoms, general health, and medical history while making their diagnosis. They may also ask to do diagnostic tests depending on your symptoms.

Prevention and Treatment

If your doctor gives you the green light that you're disease-free, they may send you home with a new prescription for an anti-gas medication, such as simethicone. This medication works by reducing gas bubbles in your stomach and intestines.

In addition, there are things you can do to help reduce your gas, such as:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Slowly introduce more insoluble fiber into your diet (think bran and edible vegetable peels).
  • Eat less carbohydrates, including pasta, bread, and corn.
  • Chew your foods carefully, as carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth.
  • Drink plenty of water daily. Hot water in the morning—a glass of hot lemon water, for example—can help get things moving and prevent constipation, which can cause gas and bloating. Tea can also help.
  • Do not use straws when you drink.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Avoid lying down immediately after eating.
  • Exercise daily, if it’s safe for you to do so.
  • Stop chewing gum.
  • Slow down and enjoy each meal—don't gulp it down.
  • Try applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to your abdomen when you're gassy. The heat will help relax muscles within the large intestine, causing them to release trapped gas.

Although some of these things primarily cause burping or releasing gas through your mouth, if the air makes it past your stomach, it will be released sooner or later.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications can also help:

  • A laxative (consult with your healthcare provider first) can help move things along.
  • Simethicone products like Gas-X can provide relief, but they do not work for everyone.
  • Beano is useful if your symptoms appear after eating beans or certain vegetables.
  • For those who are lactose intolerant, a lactase supplement (such as Lactaid), allows you to enjoy smaller portions of dairy products.
  • Probiotics, in general, can improve your gut bacteria balance. This may improve the underlying causes of gas and bloating.

Recap

If your excessive gas is caused by an underlying disorder, your doctor will want to treat that first. If it's not, prescription or over-the-counter gas medications may help. You can also eat slower, gradually add insoluble fiber to your diet, and drink more water to help reduce gas.

Summary

Gas is a normal part of life, especially after you eat and your food is digesting. Gas becomes excessive when you fart more than 25 times per day. This is usually caused by something you ate or drank, but it can also be caused by a medical condition.

Talk to your doctor if you have excessive gas or your gas makes you uncomfortable. Your doctor may ask you to keep a food and drink journal to look for any triggers. If a health condition isn't to blame, using anti-gas medications and making lifestyle changes may help.

A Word From Verywell

You may have to change what you eat and drink in order to fart less. Having to make lifestyle changes like this can be challenging, but you can take comfort knowing that by doing so, you can have more control over your gas.

Keep in mind that excessive gas can be a sign that something is amiss in your body. If you keep having symptoms after making lifestyle changes, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why am I so gassy?

    There are many reasons for being gassy or passing excessive gas. Anything that causes you to swallow more air, such as chewing gum or drinking carbonated beverages, can cause more gas to build up in the stomach. For some people, eating certain foods like broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, beans, cheese, ice cream, and high-fiber foods can increase gas. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerance, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, celiac disease, and stomach cancer can also cause excessive gas.

  • What causes gas?

    Gas is caused by swallowing air and when the large intestine breaks down certain substances from food, including fructose, lactose, and carbohydrates. Intestinal gas is completely normal, but it can't stay in the body forever, so it is released as flatulence.

  • How can I reduce flatulence?

    You can reduce flatulence in a few ways. Some people cannot fully digest certain foods rich in carbohydrates such as beans, broccoli, and cabbage. If these foods cause a reaction, try to avoid them. Similarly, people with lactose intolerance may want to avoid milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Avoid chewing gum, beer, and carbonated beverages like soda. Try chewing food slowly and eat smaller, more frequent meals. Regular exercise can also help your body's digestive process and help reduce flatulence.

  • Is farting good for you?

    In most cases, farting is good for you. It is a natural bodily process that everyone does. However, if excessive or foul-smelling flatulence can't be explained by the food you eat, it may be a sign of a disease, condition, or even a side effect of certain medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), statins, and antifungal medications can sometimes cause excessive or smelly gas.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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