Why Do We Pass Gas?

Introduction

Farts. This isn’t exactly a topic most people discuss over lunch with friends, but it’s a perfectly normal, healthy part of daily life. People pass gas, or fart, anywhere between eight to 14 times a day. Some people fart more—up to 25 times a day is considered normal.

If you notice that you’re farting more than usual, or having abdominal pain with your gas, see your healthcare provider.

In this article, you’ll read about why we fart, what a fart is, what causes flatulence, and how to manage it.

Man holding stomach.

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What Is a Fart?

A fart is when you pass gas through your anus. This gas has built up in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The gas has to escape, and when it is pushed out or released by your anus, it’s called a fart. It can also be called flatus or flatulence.

Causes

Gas usually enters the GI tract when you swallow air, and when the intestinal bacteria break down food, especially undigested carbohydrates. Swallowing air is normal and happens when you eat and drink, but more air can be swallowed if you chew gum, drink carbonated drinks, smoke, or eat and drink too fast. When bacteria break down carbohydrates, gas is a byproduct.

There are also health conditions that can cause gas. These can include:

  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other functional GI disorders are disorders associated with how your brain and gut work together and can affect how gas moves through your body
  • Issues with carbohydrate digestion, including lactose intolerance or dietary fructose intolerance
  • Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (bacteria produce extra gas)
  • Other ailments, such as celiac disease, diarrhea, Gastroparesis, or obstruction or blockage of the digestive tract

If you are noticing a change in your farting habits or gas production, talk with your healthcare provider.

Constant Gas

Constant gas is not typical. Sometimes there are health conditions that cause more gas than usual. If you have constant gas all of a sudden, first check your diet to see if your eating or drinking habits have changed recently.

Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition that involves excess gas, your healthcare team will go over your treatment options.

Simethicone products are marketed as treatment for excess gas but their efficacy has yet to be determined; the same with charcoal tablets. Weak abdominal muscles may benefit from abdominal-tensing exercises, but this is difficult in older individuals. Antibiotics can help with bacterial overgrowth, but your healthcare provider will have to do an evaluation to see if this is the cause.

Prevention

If you do not have a medical condition that explains your excess gas and you're looking for help to reduce the amount of gas you have, things you can do include:

  • Stop drinking carbonated drinks like soda and beer
  • Avoid foods like broccoli, cabbage, beans, bran, and cauliflower
  • Avoid milk and dairy
  • Do not suck on hard candies or chew gum
  • Avoid sugar-free gum and candies because these contain sorbitol or mannitol, both of which can cause gas

Try to reduce or eliminate only one thing at a time to see which one is causing the issue. If nothing provides relief, see your healthcare provider or a nutritionist about which foods tend to give you more gas symptoms. They can work with you to create a diet that minimizes gas and accompanying symptoms like pain and/or bloating.

Summary

Farts can be embarrassing to talk about, but it’s a natural occurrence that everyone does. If you’re wondering whether your gas is excessive or if there’s something abnormal about it, ask your healthcare provider. They can do an exam and order any tests that can shed light on your gastrointestinal habits.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there ways to make yourself pass gas?

    Yes, there are ways to help yourself pass gas. Some ways include:

    • Lying on your side
    • Exercising or physical activity
    • Squatting
  • Why do you pass so much gas at night?

    Everyone is different with farting, but if you notice more gas at night, there’s a common-sense reason for this: your body has had all day to break down foods and swallow air, allowing the gas to build up. When you sleep, your muscles relax, including your anal sphincter. The sphincter does not relax enough to have a bowel movement, but just enough that nocturnal farting occurs.

  • Do you burn calories when you fart?

    Farting is not an effective mode of burning calories. You may experience a reduction in abdominal bloating when you pass gas, which can make you “feel” thinner, but farting itself is passive and not a form of exercise.

  • What is a fart made of?

    When you swallow air, there are also gases like nitrogen and oxygen in the air. As food is broken down in the intestines, other gases are made like carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen. All of these gases, along with hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, combine to make up a fart.

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3 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.
  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & causes of gas in the digestive tract.

  2. American College of Gastroenterology. Belching, bloating, and flatulence.

  3. Nemours Kids Health. What's a fart?