Everyone passes gas through belching or farting. Sometimes intestinal gas causes gas pain or bloating. Most people find gas relief with dietary changes and over-the-counter drugs. Sometimes, too much painful gas is a sign of a digestive disorder or serious health problem. Gas symptoms often improve with proper treatment.
Intestinal gas is a mix of odorless vapors, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane. This gas forms in the digestive system. When these vapors mix with intestinal bacteria, an unpleasant sulfur odor can develop.
Your body releases gas through the mouth (belching) or rectum (flatulence). Sometimes gas gets trapped in the stomach. This gas buildup causes abdominal pain and bloating (a swollen or tight feeling).
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Intestinal gas is a fact of life — a natural result of food digestion. Everyone feels gassy now and then. Studies suggest that most people pass gas (fart) up to 21 times per day.
Causes of intestinal gas include:
Excess gas can make your stomach feel swollen or bloated. You may pass flatulence (sometimes foul smelling). Though uncomfortable, excess gas is rarely a concern. Things that make you produce too much gas include:
Gas symptoms vary depending on the cause. Some typical symptoms of intestinal gas are:
You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience gas along with:
Your healthcare provider may ask you to keep a food diary for a week or more to see if certain foods or drinks make you gassy. Because excessive gas can be a sign of a health problem, you may need one or more of these tests:
By treating a health condition that causes excessive gas, you can enjoy better health. For occasional gas, your healthcare provider might suggest one of these over-the-counter products:
Prescription medications may help if you have a motility problem like IBS. Antibiotics can treat bacterial overgrowth in the intestines that cause excess gas and bloating.
Extra gas can cause pain, discomfort and embarrassment, but it’s usually not a serious health problem. Gas buildup can sometimes feel more worrisome, though. Gas on the left side of the colon can cause chest pain that you might mistake for a heart attack. Gas buildup on the right side can mimic pain from gallstones or appendicitis. A health professional should check out these symptoms for any concerning underlying cause.
Most foods containing carbohydrates can cause gas. A food diary can help you determine which foods make you gassy. But don’t cut out too many things. Many vegetables, fruits, dairy products, wheat products and beans cause gas, but they’re also very good for you.
To reduce your body’s gas production, you can:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
While intestinal gas is common, the symptoms — belching, flatulence, bloating and stomach discomfort — can be embarrassing and even painful. Gas is sometimes a symptom of a more serious health problem. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. The right treatment can ease gas symptoms so you can go about your day in confidence.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/14/2021.
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