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Intestinal gas – symptoms, causes & other associated risk factors

Intestinal gas and gas pain can strike at the worst possible moment, for example when we are in a crowded elevator or during an important meeting. The passing intestinal gas (also known as flatus) usually is not serious but we know that this condition can be very embarrassing. Every cause which can leads to intestinal gas or it is associated with diarrhea or constipation can lead to gas pains. These pains are usually occurring when the gas builds up in your intestines and you are not able to expel it. Most people pass gas at least ten times per day. You cannot stop the gas and gas pains but there are many simple measures which can help you to reduce the amount of gas you produce and they will help you to get a relief from the embarrassment and discomfort.

Symptoms of intestinal gas

For many people the signs and symptoms of intestinal gas and gas pain are too obvious and they include:

  • Swelling and tightness in your abdomen (bloating)
  • A knotted feeling in your abdomen
  • Sharp, jabbing pain or cramps in your abdomen. These pains may occur anywhere in your abdomen and they can change locations quickly and they get better quickly. [1]
  • Voluntary or involuntary passing of gas, either as belches or as flatus

In some cases, gas pain can be constant or so intense and they can make you to feel like something is seriously wrong. There are some cases when the gas can be mistaken for appendicitis, gallstones and heart disease.

intestinal gas

Causes of intestinal gas

Your diet or a health problem can lead to problem with excessive gas [2]. Gas forms when the bacteria in your colon ferment carbohydrates and they are not digested in your small intestines. Unfortunately, healthy and high fiber foods are often the worst offenders [3]. It is known that fiber has many health benefits such as keeping your digestive tract in good working and it can regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. But also there are some cases when the fiber can lead to formation of gas.

  1. Causes of excessive gas swallowing too much air: We do not probably sit and gulp mouthfuls of air, but whether or not we realize it, we are ingesting a lot of air when we eat and drink. 50% of the excess gas is caused by swallowing too much air. [4] Here are the most common activities which can cause you to swallow too much air and they can lead to problems with gas:
  • Swallowing often, which may happen when you are nervous
  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Drinking from a straw
  • Smoking
  • Wearing dentures that are too loose
  • Eating or drinking very quickly
  • Sucking on candies or food
  • Chewing gum
  1. Causes of excessive gas – food: We know that foods are the major cause of excessive gas. It is known that beans are culprit but also there are many others. [5] Each food affects every single person differently but here are some of the most common causes (foods) which are causing excessive gas:
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Wheat
  • Oat bran
  • Foods with artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol
  • Carrots, celery, corn and peas
  • Cabbage and sauerkraut
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Prunes and prune juice
  • Apricots, raw apples and bananas
  • Milk and dairy products

It is known fact that foods which have natural sugars, high – fiber foods and starchy foods are likely to cause gas because of the way the body breaks them down or it has difficulty breaking them down [3]. You should pay attention to foods which you ear and how your body is reacting to them. If you have noticed that when you eat some of the mentioned foods and you have gas after eating them, then you should stop eating them.

  1. Causes of excessive gas – medications and health conditions: Excessive intestinal gas can be a side effect of certain medications such as acarbose (Precose) which is a medication that is used to treat diabetes type 2 or those medications which have lactulose or sugars sorbitol [6]. Also fiber supplements can lead to flatulence. Here are the health conditions which can lead to excessive gas:
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Celiac disease (intolerance to gluten)
  • Lactose intolerance

Risk factors: You are more likely to have problems with intestinal gas if you:

  • Have a chronic intestinal condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease [1]
  • Drink carbohydrate beverages
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes [3]
  • Are lactose or gluten intolerant [7]

You should know that neither sex nor age affect how often you pass gas.


[1] Lacy BE, Gabbard SL, Crowell MD. Pathophysiology, Evaluation, and Treatment of Bloating: Hope, Hype, or Hot Air? Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2011;7(11):729–39.

[2] Hasler WL. Gas and bloating. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2006;2(9):654–62.

[3] Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. With high fiber diets, more protein may mean more bloating: Though study does suggest that high fiber diets may be healthier overall. Science Daily. 2020. Retrieved from

[4] de Jesus LE, Cestari ABCSS, Filho OCdS, et al. Pathologic aerophagia: a rare cause of chronic abdominal distension. Revista Paulista de Pediatria. 2015;33(3).

[5] Winham DM, Hutchins AM. Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies. Nutrition Journal. 2011;10:128.

[6] Lettieri JT, Dain B. Effects of Beano on the tolerability and pharmacodynamics of acarbose. Clinical Therapeutics. 1998;20(3):497-504.

[7] Deng Y, Misselwitz B, Dai N, Fox M. Lactose intolerance in adults: Biological mechanism and dietary management. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):8020–35.

Pardhan Singh
Pardhan Singh
A seasoned natural therapist with degree in Ayurvedic Medicine (BAMS) successful in treating various diseases through Ayurvedic treatments. You can contact Pradhan at [email protected]


  1. Hi my family member! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and come with almost all significant infos. I’d like to peer more posts like this .


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