- You may fart more than usual if you eat gas-producing foods like beans, cauliflower, and dairy.
- Eating too fast and chewing gum can also make you swallow air and pass more gas.
- Conditions like IBS, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or lactose intolerance can also cause gas.
While some people find it embarrassing to pass gas in front of others, or even to just talk about it, farting is completely normal. Everyone does it — in fact, it's considered normal to fart 14-23 times a day.
However, if you find yourself farting a lot more than you usually do, especially if you're experiencing other symptoms like pain, diarrhea, or constipation as well, it could be a sign that something is up. Anything from your diet to a more serious health condition can cause excessive farting.
Here are seven causes of frequent flatulence and how to treat them.
1. Eating gas-producing foods
Some foods are more likely to produce gas than others due to the way they're digested.
"Oftentimes these are fermentable carbohydrates that are not digested in the small intestine, and when they make their way into the large intestine, they are broken down by bacteria that will produce gas as a by-product," says Dr. Hamita Sachar, vice chief of gastroenterology at Yale Medicine and assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine. It's common to experience bloating alongside the gas.
Sachar says some common offenders are:
- Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cabbage)
- Dairy products
- Some fruits (like apples and pears)
Not everyone will feel like they produce excessive gas from consuming so-called gas-producing food, Sachar says. Some people may simply be more sensitive to these foods or have conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that make them more likely to experience gas from them.
How to treat it: The treatment is to recognize the foods that give you symptoms and avoid them, says Sachar. If you can't avoid the foods altogether, limiting your consumption can help, too. Additionally, Sachar says you can take a product like Beano before you eat, which contains enzymes that help you break down the carbohydrates in your food and prevent gas before it starts.
2. Swallowing air
Swallowing excessive amounts of air when you eat, drink, or talk can result in a lot of farting.
"Most of it is released by burping, but whatever is not will travel through the GI tract and be released through the anus by farting," Sachar says. You may not even notice that this is happening, but if you engage in behaviors like eating too fast, chewing gum, or drinking carbonated beverages, this may be the culprit of your frequent gas.
How to treat it: To reduce farting caused by swallowing too much air, Sachar says you should:
- Eat slowly
- Avoid chewing gum
- Avoid sucking on hard candy
- Avoid carbonated drinks
- Avoid drinking from straws
If you smoke, this can also result in swallowing too much air, in which case quitting smoking can help with your GI problems and result in better overall health.
3. Lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a condition where an individual can't properly digest lactose, a sugar that's found in dairy products, says Dr. Jesse P. Houghton, the senior medical director of gastroenterology at SOMC Gastroenterology Associates.
This is because there's a deficiency in an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down lactose in the small intestine. "Due to the deficiency, lactose makes its way to the colon or large intestine, where the bacteria break it down and produce gasses like hydrogen and methane as a result," Sachar says.
Symptoms will appear around 30 minutes to two hours after consuming something with lactose in it. Aside from excessive farting, Houghton says other common symptoms of lactose intolerance are:
How to treat it: Houghton says the most effective treatment for lactose intolerance is to avoid dairy altogether, but if you can't completely avoid dairy, you can take an over-the-counter lactase enzyme replacement like Lactaid to help you digest lactose.
4. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that primarily affects the large intestine. People with IBS experience abdominal pain along with altered bowel habits at least once a week throughout the last three months, Houghton says.
IBS symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
People with IBS may predominantly experience either diarrhea or constipation, or it may alternate between the two. Additionally, excessive flatulence is commonly reported by those with IBS, says Sachar.
How to treat it: There isn't a cure for IBS, but you can learn to manage it, Houghton says. Some treatment options include:
- Avoiding foods that trigger your IBS symptoms
- Increasing your fiber intake
- Managing stress levels
- Taking medications to treat the symptoms of constipation or diarrhea
- Taking antidepressants if depression or anxiety is your major IBS triggers
- Taking antispasmodic medications that relax the muscles of your digestive tract
5. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO is when there's an excessive amount of bacteria in your small intestine, which throws off the balance of your gut flora. "Typically the colon has a lot more bacteria than the small intestine but when this balance changes, the result can be excessive gas production and bloating," Sachar says.
On top of frequent gas, other SIBO symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Weight loss
How to treat it: The most immediate treatment for SIBO is antibiotics, Sachar says. The antibiotics can help kill off excess bacteria, but typically you need to make dietary changes to make sure the SIBO goes away, such as eating a low-carb or low-FODMAP diet. It's also important to address any underlying causes of SIBO to ensure long-term treatment success.
Constipation is typically characterized by having less than three bowel movements a week. Houghton says you may also strain during bowel movements or have hard,pebble-like stools. Constipation may be acute, but if it lasts for three months or more it's considered to be chronic constipation.
"When you are constipated, stool moves more slowly through your GI tract. Along with stool building up in the colon, gas also tends to build up here, due to bacterial action on the stool," Houghton says. This results in bloating, cramping, and farting.
How to treat it: Simple lifestyle and dietary changes can help constipation. Houghton recommends:
- Increasing the fiber in your diet
- Increasing your water intake
7. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is a chronic condition where your body has an immune response to gluten, which is a protein found in some grains like wheat, rye, and barley. This goes beyond gluten intolerance because it can lead to intestinal damage and malabsorption of nutrients. Houghton says if you have celiac and ingest gluten, this leads to inflammation and irritation of the small intestine. It may also cause excess gas.
Aside from gas, some other symptoms of celiac disease are:
- Weight loss
How to treat it: There is no cure or medication treatment for celiac disease, so the only option is to eat a gluten-free diet, Houghton says. You can work with your doctor and a nutritionist to identify the food you can't eat along with healthy alternatives. If you're newly diagnosed with celiac disease and are switching to a gluten-free diet, it may take some time for your small intestine inflammation to subside and your symptoms to improve.
If you're farting a lot, the cause can be anything from eating foods known to make you more gassy than usual to a chronic disease like celiac disease.
Farting alone isn't necessarily cause for concern. But if you're experiencing a major change from your baseline or if your symptoms are bothering you, talk to your doctor. You should especially seek medical care if on top of the excessive farting you're experiencing changes to your bowel pattern, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, or unintentional weight loss, Sachar says.