Help! I can’t stop farting!

Q: Help! I farted in class and someone heard me!  What can I do to get rid of my gas??

A: Believe it or not, the normal frequency of passing gas is 14-23 times per day!  There are two major sources of intestinal gas: swallowed air and gas produced by bacteria in the colon.  Most people who have problems with gas don’t actually have excess gas in their intestines, but rather an increased sensitivity to normal amounts of gas. 

If you’re farting more often than 24 times a day (that’s not a challenge, guys) or you’re having difficulty keeping it from happening at inopportune times, you should take a look at what you’re eating and how fast you’re eating it. 

Air swallowing is the major source of gas in the stomach.  It’s normal to swallow some air while eating, but drinking carbonated beverages, drinking through a straw, chewing gum and eating too quickly can cause you to swallow an excessive amount of air.  Most swallowed air is released through burping, but what doesn’t come up must go down.

Certain high-fiber and carbohydrate containing foods such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beans, broccoli, and some whole grains may not break down well in your digestive tract.  When they come into contact with the bacteria in your colon they ferment and produce lots of gas, as artfully demonstrated in the following classic scene from Blazing Saddles

(C’mon – there had to be a fart joke in here somewhere and this is the Mona Lisa of fart jokes!  Question the taste and maturity level of the clip all you want, but I’ll bet you a bottle of Bean-O you laughed…) 

If you’re having uncomfortable amounts of gas and bloating, you can do some things to help.  In addition to avoiding the above mentioned foods and activities, you should:

  • Increase your non-carbonated fluid intake, particularly water
  • Minimize alcohol consumption
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products
  • Keep calm – tension can cause you to swallow air
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid dairy products if you are lactose intolerant

Some over-the-counter medications may also help:

  • Simethicone containing products (Maalox Anti-Gas, Mylanta Gas, Gas-X, Phazyme) cause gas bubbles to break up, which may decrease discomfort
  • Bean-O is an enzyme supplement that helps break down carbohydrates and may help if your gas is caused by foods such as beans and broccoli
  • A lactase supplement (LactAid) will help gas caused by lactose intolerance

Of course, excessive intestinal gas may also be a sign of a more serious problem.  If the above steps don’t help, be sure to come and see us at the Student Health Center.

Angela Walker, Med IV (Ohio State College of Medicine)

John A. Vaughn, MD (Ohio State Student Health Services)

22 thoughts on “Help! I can’t stop farting!

  1. if you are farting a lot during the think of what you are consuming…if its during the night time it can also sometimes mean you need to excrete (go to the toilet) or you having eaten enough ;-)

  2. if it is starting to effect your life and its happening over 20-30 times a day then consult your doctor and see what they think or if you are embarrassed to talk to a real person. About it go online and find an online doctor to consult <3 :-) ;-)

  3. 14-23 per day?? Try per hour! Thank goodness they don’t smell bad and I’m at a low enough fat percentage(no fat cheeks to impede flow) that they all come out quiet or as puffs of air. It’s a party in my colon, they are all so happy I ate beans again finally without any spices. Some spices and garlic keep the bacteria in check and don’t allow raves where everyone and their family is invited for a feast.

  4. yes I fart 25 – 30 times a day or more and it is usually when I get up from sleeping or get up from a chair and start walking. What can I do to stop some or all of this==it has caused some embarrassment. I am 73 if that makes any difference. Thank you for some advice.

    • It could be that carbs are causing your problem. When carbs are not correctly absorbed they can lead to increased gas resulting in abdominal pain and, yes, farts. Take a look at your diet and see if any of the following “airs” true.

      Lactose intolerance: meaning that the body cannot easily digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and diary products. Limiting the amount of milk and milk products, consuming milk products with other foods such as cereal, or taking a supplement such as Lactaid, can improve the digestion of lactose and reduce the symptoms, one of which is excess gas.
      Whole wheat flours, oats, potatoes, and corn malabsorption: meaning that your body is not able to 100% process these items resulting in excess gas. Switching to gluten free options such as rice and gluten free options allow for complete absorption.
      Fructose malabsorption: meaning your body is not able to 100% process fructose (sugar). To avoid this problem, look for foods/beverages where there is more glucose than fructose. Typically fruits have a pretty even ratio and so are OK, but some, such as apples, pears, watermelon, raisins, and high fructose corn syrup, weight in more heavily on the fructose side and can lean to malabsorption and then to gas.

  5. I’ve recently had a section of my small intestine removed and now I seem to have alot more gas than normal is this right ?

    • When the bowel is resected, it takes time for the electrical conduction directing peristalsis to re-equilibrate. It should normalize over the next 6 months.

  6. I fart Everyday when at work walking in car in bed at stores everywhere. And everyday and it smell bad all the time try beans. Peppermint tea Notting is working can you help me Thanks David Turner

    • Try keeping a journal. Record what you’ve ingested, both foods and beverages and also how often you fart. Then try eliminating something for 2-3 days and see if it has an impact. One of the primary reasons for farting is swallowed air. If you drink a lot of carbonated beverages, try giving those up for a week and see if it has any impact. If you’re gum chewing go without, etc. By writing things down and really recording both what you’re ingesting and what’s happening on the other end, you may be able to notice a difference.

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