Smelly farts, flatulence, or flatus are a normal part of digestion. Farts are gas; the gas that you swallow while eating and the gases formed in the gut when the food is being broken down. Certain carbohydrates are incompletely digested by the enzymes in the stomach and intestines. The gut bacteria then digest these carbohydrates, releasing intestinal gas in the process. A trace amount of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, which is formed by gut bacteria, gives farts their smell.
Talk to your physician if:
- Farts are excessive.
- Farts with cramps.
- Farts interfere with your daily life.
What are the types of farts?
The farts are associated with different types of symptoms. Thus, it can be said that there are different types of farts, which include:
- Flatus with bloating and cramp-like abdominal pain: The pain is felt in the areas where the gas gets trapped. The most common area includes:
- Upper to mid-right part of the abdomen
- Upper to the mid-left part of the abdomen
- Flatus in an excessive amount: You may feel that you are passing an excessive amount of gas. However, you do not have excess gas but have an increased sensitivity to the normal amount of gas in the intestine. Some of the condition causing increased sensitivity include:
- Smelly flatus: You may have abnormally smelly farts. This may be due to a particular food allergy or due to bacterial overgrowth in the gut.
- Flatus incontinence: In this, you feel the rectum is filling, but the body’s nerves cannot recognize whether it is a gas or stool.
What are the causes of smelly farts?
Foul-smelling gas can be attributed to a variety of reasons, from normal to potentially severe. It comes and goes based on what you eat. Some of the common causes of foul-smelling gas include:
- Swallowing air: Some of the ways by which people swallow air include:
- Certain foods: Some foods may have indigestible carbohydrates that need to be broken down by bacteria. Examples include:
- Oat bran
- Brussel sprouts
- Chewing gums
- Lactose intolerant to milk, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products
- Food intolerance
- High-fiber foods
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes and scleroderma, may lower the activity of the small intestine over time, leading to bacterial overgrowth
- Many bacteria in the intestine
Some of the severe causes of foul-smelling gas include:
- Infections of the digestive tract
- Colon cancer (rare)
If you experience an unusual amount of foul-smelling gas, you should talk to your doctor to know the cause.
How to prevent farts?
If you wish to control your farts, you can try these methods:
- Avoid eating or drinking hurriedly. Chew your food properly before gulping it down.
- For a few days, avoid foods that cause flatulence. You can determine the foods triggering flatulence by adding them gradually to your diet.
- Increase your fiber content slowly over days or weeks. A sudden increase in dietary fiber may trigger flatulence, but a gradual increase will not do so.
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Abraczinskas D. Patient Education: Gas and Bloating (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/gas-and-bloating-beyond-the-basics
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