Do You Fart? A Lot? How to Manage Excessive Flatulence

Passing gas, breaking wind, expelling flatulence, letting it rip – these are some of the polite phrases we use to dress up the seemingly impolite issue of farting. Everyone does it though, so no big deal. But if you think you’re doing it too much, let’s discuss ways to manage this issue


What is Flatulence?

Put simply, flatulence, also known as flatus, is the release of intestinal gas via the anus (or any stoma created along the large intestine intended to release excretions). Bacteria located throughout our digestive tract are constantly breaking down compounds, and it's this breakdown of substances that results in the actual gas formation. The gas travels up and down our tract: if it goes up, you get the satisfaction of burping; if it goes down, you get the satisfaction of farting.

Why Do We Pass Gas?

The prevailing reason why all humans accumulate gas and ultimately release it is that we all swallow air throughout the day, especially during eating and drinking. It's totally normal and can't be helped. This fact alone ensures that every single one of us farts. Sorry! Other reasons why this happens are as follows:

Eating certain foods

Some vegetables (such as broccoli and onions) and legumes (such as beans and lentils) are known gas producers. Also, food items containing lactulose, a key compound in dairy, are (or eventually can become) a problem for many people.

The small intestine only partially digests food

The main culprits are carbohydrates, which can slip out of the small intestine without being fully digested so that by the time they get to the large intestine, bacteria have to decompose large food particles. Thus we get larger amounts of gas production and more frequent bouts of breaking wind.

Lack of muscle control

The voluntary anal muscles may become weakened from years of not engaging the lower half of your body in exercise, advanced age (in which all body muscles generally start to atrophy), or intrinsic musculoskeletal disease.

A special consideration for excessive flatulence resulting in chronically passing gas is a medical illness. Conditions such as type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and liver disease can cause an overgrowth of bacteria. More bacteria means more breaking down of compounds in the gut, which means more flatus.

How to Reduce Your Daily Fart Production

Please be mindful that any sudden spike in flatulence with or without associated abdominal bloat unrelated to food consumption should be examined by a medical professional, not merely managed. If you're concerned that your gas production and/or expulsion is abnormal in any way, make an appointment with your gastroenterologist. Now let's examine each of the Why items above:

Are certain foods causing you to expel flatus?

Avoid your dietary triggers! Figure out which foods result in an increase in intestinal gas production and avoid them. If you can't (or won't) avoid them, consider taking products that aid in digesting those specific food items or products that contain simethicone, such as Gas-X. Simethicone is a well-established intestinal gas neutralizer. No gas, nothing to pass!

Think you're only partially digesting food?

Chew your food thoroughly before you swallow! We all know nurses have the luxury of taking unhurried, leisurely one-hour lunches on the job, right? The less work you give your intestines, the less the bacteria has to break down, resulting in less gas and thus, less farts. While malabsorption happens to us all occasionally, if this happens to you often, then consider taking a digestive enzyme with meals or a daily probiotic (yogurt, kombucha, probiotic capsules, etc.).

Lacking anal muscle control?

Exercise! Do workouts that regularly engage the lower body in general and the pelvic floor muscles in particular. Unless your only exercise is literally sitting in a chair lifting weights, almost any workout routine will do. However, for targeted management, kegel exercises are the best way to increase anal tone and reduce incidents of accidentally breaking wind.

If all else fails and you just can't help farting all the time, hide the evidence! Consider charcoal-lined underwear, as charcoal is a well-known odor neutralizer and (very) mild deodorizer. Put it on like you would regular underwear, and let it rip!


The Therapeutic Value of Charcoal in Flatulence and Eructation: The New England Journal of Medicine

Some of what I do as a Pelvic Floor Therapist: Jeanie Crawford: SBR Therapy and Wellness

Flatulence FAQ: Why we fart and other questions: Healthline Media

What's a Fart?: KidsHealth

Top foods with probiotics: WebMD

Winifred Makawa has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Home Health, Residential care, and Critical care.

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Lisa H

1 Article; 10 Posts

Specializes in Health Communication and Patient Experience.

It's a shame that some foods that are so healthy can prove to also be embarrassing. At least now I better understand why the elderly people in my life have a tendency to let them rip (and all the more motivation for me to keep exercising)!

Tweety, BSN, RN

32,734 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.
Lisa H said:

It's a shame that some foods that are so healthy can prove to also be embarrassing.

I eat beans daily and lots of fiber and have no troubles.  This doctor is saying "go slow and low fiber" when adding healthy foods that are gut healthy.  Your gut microbiome will get used to it.  

Specializes in ICU. Has 4 years experience.

I'm a frequent farter LOL. I eat a lot of fiber and healthy foods, but I also have suspect IBS, and much of the time I just produce more gas than others I guess. I just go away on my own, to the bathroom, or let it go when no one is around. At home I'm liberal and the hubby doesn't mind, perks of being married to someone who thinks it's funny like I do. I'm a woman in my 30s but still laugh at farts 😆. This lifestyle has been working for me for years.