Manage excessive wind (and your embarrasment) with these tips from a Gastroenterologist Doctor

excessive wind: a doctor's guide to fixing it

We’ve all experienced that feeling of uncontrollable farting. Sometimes, it’s as though our stomachs are a balloon that constantly needs deflating.

While most people will pass wind at least ten times a day, it's also normal for some people to fart up to thirty times a day, and more. Excessive wind is anything more that your normal.

However, for some, excessive wind is not a particularly nice feeling unless they’re in the comfort of their own home. And for many it can be embarrassing too.

But there are ways to manage excessive wind. Dr Simon Smale is a Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist; and here he shares his tips...

Excessive wind: a doctor's guide to reducing flatulence

According to Dr Simon Smale, there are foods that are known to cause excessive wind, many of which are surpising. Here's what you need to know to prevent a bad case of the trumps.

What causes excessive wind?

It's easier to prevent excessive wind once you understand what flatulence is, says Dr Smale.

‘Flatulence is a term used to describe the passage of gas from the large bowel out of the bottom,’ says Dr Smale. ‘It is usually caused by gas produced as a result of the breakdown of food by the trillions of microbes, mainly bacteria, that live in the bowel, predominantly the large bowel (sometimes known as the colon). Foods containing elements that human digestion cannot break down easily all make wind more likely.

‘Flatulence may also occur as a result of the swallowing of air or fizzy drinks. Swallowing air is usually subconscious.’

As for the smell?

Dr Smale explains: ‘Fermentation of indigestible food by colonic bacteria and fungi is what makes wind smell the way it does.’

Foods that cause excessive wind

Dr Smale reveals that certain foods make excessive wind and flatulence more likely.

‘Foods containing complex carbohydrates, sugars and possibly proteins that our digestive systems cannot break down easily, all make wind more likely.

‘This includes foods such as:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • beans
  • lentils
  • stoned fruit

which all contain FODMAPS.

What are FODMAPS?

FODMAPS is an acronym for fructose, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols), a group of sugars that are difficult for humans to digest but which our bacteria ferment easily.’

Dr Smale adds that wheat and milk also contain fermentable sugars, which some people struggle to digest.

‘The fermentation of these indigestible sugars may be why these foods make some people feel bloated.

‘Of course fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide and this gas can make wind and bloating worse.’

How to prevent excessive wind

There are five simple things you can do that should reduce excessive wind says Dr Smale:

  1. Cut down on fizzy drinks.
  2. Identify your food triggers. He adds: ‘If you know that certain foods increase your wind, try and avoid them or at least reduce how much you eat.’
  3. Eat regular meals at set times.
  4. Perfect the balance between sleep, stress and relaxation.
  5. Exercise regulary. This helps increase gut mobility, making things travel through the gut more quickly.

‘If you feel like you are suffering with excessive wind, the use of a supplement such as Alflorex (£24.95 for 30, Boots, might also help to get your gut health back in working order,’ says Dr Smale.


SHOP NOW: £24.95, Alflorex, (opens in new tab)

When looking for a helpful supplement, be sure to find one that is clinically proven to work, not all marketed products are.

‘This means that is has to get to the bit of the gut that it is actually meant to affect gas and bloating, and it must also get there in sufficient numbers to impact on these symptoms. It takes around two weeks to prime the gut and for it to start to work,’ says Dr Smale.

Is excessive wind better in or out?

Whilst we appreciate it’s not always appropriate to let out a sly fart, Dr Smale says that letting wind out is always best. ‘Keeping it in can only cause bloating and discomfort’, he says.

If you keep it ‘in’, a small fraction of the gas may be absorbed into the bloodstream, but most of it waits till when it’s let out, either when you open your bowels or in your sleep.

If you are concerned about your excessive wind make an appointment to see your GP.

Lucy Gornall is the former Health & Fitness editor at Future and a personal trainer specializing in pre and post-natal exercise.