What causes smelly flatulence?

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It's one of the most embarrassing of bodily emissions--flatulence or farting occurs when gases build up in the digestive tract and are expelled via the colon. This process is made even more embarrassing when accompanied by a strong odour. There are many contributors to stomach gases and their odour.

Definition of Flatulence

Flatulence, or gas in the stomach and intestines, happens when bacteria produced by fermenting, undigested food in the large intestine release carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide and oxygen. These gases are then expelled from the body via the colon.

IBS as a Contributor

Individuals with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) may be especially prone to smelly flatulence. In IBS, there are insufficient stomach acids to break down food in the stomach, leaving it undigested as it passes into the intestines. Gases from the undigested food build up in the intestines, causing cramping, pain and flatulence.

Other Health Concerns

Other health conditions that may cause flatulence include stomach infections, ulcers, lactose intolerance, gallstones and food allergies. You may also be ingesting too much air when chewing your food. This can be caused by allergies or other respiratory problems that interfere with nasal breathing; hence the sufferer gulps air. If you are experiencing stomach pain, excessive cramping, or unexplained weight loss or gain, you should see your doctor about your symptoms.

Foods that Cause Flatulence

The most significant contributor to bad-smelling flatulence is the food you eat. Foods that are particular culprits include dairy products, legumes, cabbages, onions, bananas, radishes, prunes, wine and dark beer.

Digestive Aids

Keeping the digestive tract working optimally is the best way to calm smelly flatulence. One of the simplest digestive aids can be made by squeezing the juice from half a lemon into an eight to 354ml glass of water and sipping the drink after a meal. There are several over-the-counter remedies to aid the digestive process as well: Beano or simethicone (the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol) works well for most people. It is also helpful to add things to your diet such as fibre, peppermint, ginger, probiotics, and caraway to aid digestion and clear up flatulence problems.