Medical Q&As

Wind/flatus - causes?

My 16-year-old son passes a lot of wind and I want to know why he does and how he can prevent this?

I donít wish to sound crude but would suggest that the colon or large intestine can be reasonably described as a form of gasworks. It contains a large population of many different kinds of bacteria which are essential to good health and which ferment the residues delivered from the small intestine, producing large volumes of hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and other gases in the process. Some of these gases can be absorbed into the bloodstream and are exhaled on the breath whereas the remainder are expelled through the anus. A fiber rich diet can help to prevent constipation and maintain a regular bowel habit but it can also generate extra volumes of gas in the colon. Certain foods are noted to produce extra amounts of gas such as cabbage, onions, beans, sprouts and turnips. Certain seeds such as cardamom, cumin and aniseed can also aggravate the problem. Sometimes the excess flatus can be due to lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar that is widely found in dairy products and if the subject is intolerant of lactose a reduction in the consumption of milk and other dairy products may reduce the amount of flatus being produced. Occasionally excessive amounts of flatus can be a sign of an intestinal disorder but in that situation other additional symptoms are usually present. Passing excessive amounts of flatus in an otherwise healthy and symptom free person is usually related to diet.