Ever wonder if there is a normal amount of times to have gas in a day?
Do you feel like maybe you pass gas more than other people?
Although a source of discomfort and sometimes embarrassment, everyone has gas.
It comes from the air you swallow while eating and from the breakdown of foods during digestion.
In this article, we will talk about how your gas is made and what a normal amount should be.
We will also talk about certain foods, intolerances, and medical conditions that could be causing you to have too much gas.
Lastly, we will go over how a problem with too much gas can be diagnosed, what the treatment could be, and when it’s time to see a doctor.
What is Gas?
The gas in your digestive tract comes from two sources:
- The air you swallow while you are eating
- Undigested food being broken down by bacteria in your large intestine
Most of this gas does not have an odor.
If there is an odor, it’s because the bacteria in your intestines are releasing gas that contains sulfur.
It’s different for everyone, but the normal average for how many times people pass gas in a day is somewhere between 13-15 times.
Experts consider passing gas up to 25 times a day to be normal.
Gas symptoms are normal, especially after eating a meal.
They can include:
- Bloating or distention (distention is larger than normal bloating)
- Passing gas through flatulence or burping
Let’s now get into more detail about what causes it.
Normally, gas entering your digestive tract is a normal part of eating and digestion.
However, there are some foods, intolerances, and medical conditions that can cause you to have more gas than usual.
Some people get more gas by eating certain carbohydrates that don’t get digested in the stomach and small intestine.
Here is a list of foods and drinks that may give you more gas.
- Certain fruits and fruit juices such as apples, peaches, and pears
- Certain vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale
- Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils
- Dairy products like milk, ice cream, and yogurt, especially if you have lactose intolerance
- Whole wheat grains
- Drinks that have high-fructose corn syrup (sports drinks, energy drinks, juices, soft drinks)
- Sweeteners like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol, usually seem in gum and candy
- High-fat foods
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Scientists have not found the cause of IBS but it is very common and may be related to anxiety and depression.
Your doctor may suggest that you:
Constipation is when you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, and when you do, they may be hard, dry, lumpy, and painful to pass.
Being constipated can cause you to have extra gas as well.
Your doctor may recommend increasing your fluid intake, changing what you eat and drink, and trying some over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Lactose intolerance is when your body has a hard time digesting lactose, a sugar found in dairy products.
Lactase is the enzyme in your intestines that breaks down lactose.
Babies can be born without lactase and in those cases will have trouble digesting milk.
Sometimes adults will also have digestive tracts that don’t make enough lactase.
Symptoms of being lactose intolerant typically start 20 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking a dairy product.
Gluten Intolerance or Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestines.
It is triggered by eating gluten and causes long-term damage to your digestive tract.
There are many symptoms, some of which include:
- Digestion problems such as abdominal pain, gas, and distention
- Unexplained weight loss
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Depression or anxiety
Your provider will suggest you stay away from foods that contain gluten to decrease long-term damage.
Other Digestive Problems
- Ulcerative colitis: Colitis is an inflammatory disease that causes sores (ulcers) to form in the lining of the large intestine and colon.
- Crohn’s disease: Crohn’s is when part of your intestines is chronically inflamed. It can happen to any part of your digestive tract. The cause is unknown but researchers believe it may be autoimmune. You are also more likely to have Crohn’s disease if someone in your family has it.
- SIBO: This is when you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestines. This slows digestion and injures your small intestine, leading to decreased absorption.
- Delayed gastric emptying: Also known as gastroparesis, is when your stomach is very slow to empty the contents of your stomach into your small intestine.
- Intestinal obstruction: An obstruction is when food cannot pass through your intestines. There are several causes for an obstruction including scar tissue, hernias, and cancers.
If you think that you have too much gas and believe it could be related to a medical condition, your primary care provider will suggest an assessment and then some testing.
First, they may ask you to come in for an exam.
During your exam, your provider will want to go over what medications and supplements you are currently taking.
Next, they will ask you some questions about your health history and symptoms:
- When did the symptoms start?
- What are your eating and drinking habits?
- How often do you have a bowel movement?
- What is the consistency of your stool?
- How long do the symptoms last?
- How often are you experiencing them?
It’s helpful if you have a food diary to show them what you’ve been eating and when you have the symptoms.
If you don’t have a diary to show them, they may ask you to start keeping one.
Next, your provider will do a physical exam.
Usually during the physical exam, they will likely do the following:
- Check for swelling or any abnormal shape of your abdomen.
- Listen to your bowel sounds with a stethoscope.
- Gently press your abdomen to check for tenderness or pain.
If your provider believes your symptoms are due to a medical condition, they may also order some tests.
A blood test will give a good idea about your overall health and may give a clue about what’s going on.
A stool test is when you give a sample of your fecal matter that is then evaluated in a lab.
Hydrogen Breath Test
The hydrogen breath test can tell you several things:
- If you have too much bacteria in your gut (SIBO)
- If you are lactose intolerant
- If you are fructose intolerant
Upper GI Scope
An upper GI scope is a procedure that uses a long flexible tube called an endoscope.
The tube has a tiny light and camera on the end that goes down your mouth and throat, down your esophagus, into your stomach, and into the upper part of your small intestine.
This test can help diagnose any medical problems going on in your upper GI system.
A colonoscopy is the same type of procedure as an upper GI scope except rather than looking at the upper half of your GI system it looks at your lower half.
This test is typically done under light sedation in a hospital or medical center, and generally requires preparation with drinking a special liquid that cleans out your intestines.
An endoscopy and colonoscopy may sometimes be done at the same time if needed.
To prevent or reduce extra gas you may need to learn how to swallow less air or change your eating and drinking habits.
To swallow less air you can:
- Avoid talking while drinking and eating
- Avoid carbonated beverages
- Avoid chewing gum
Changing your eating and drinking habits will depend on what foods cause you to have gas and if you are diagnosed with food intolerances.
Treatment will depend on what type of GI issue you are dealing with.
For food intolerances, you will need to learn how to avoid those foods and make substitutions.
If it’s something more serious you may need to take medications, have a surgical procedure, or change your diet.
When to See a Medical Provider
See a medical provider if your gas is severe, persistent, or you are also experiencing:
- Weight loss
- Change in your bowel pattern
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- Loss of appetite
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?
Download K Health to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed, text with a clinician in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Celiac Disease. (n.d.)
Crohn’s Disease. (2022).
Definition & Facts for Gastroparesis. (2018).
Eating, Diet, and Nutrition for Gas in the Digestive Tract. (2021).
Eating, Diet, and Nutrition for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (2017).
Farting (flatulence). (2019).
Intestinal Obstruction. (2022).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (2022).
Lactose Intolerance. (2020).
Low FODMAP Diet. (2021).
Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth. (2020).
Symptoms and Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract. (2021).
Ulcerative Colitis. (2022).