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What Do Pungent Farts Say About Your Health?

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What Do Pungent Farts Say About Your Health?

Farts are a normal bodily function, but if they are particularly vile some underlying health condition may be to blame. Observing a pattern could help pinpoint any specific food allergies. If consumption of dairy products causes bloating/abdominal pain, you could be lactose intolerant. The odor could also be an early indicator of digestive disorders (IBS/celiac disease).

Does your most embarrassing moment involve a closed space, a loud noise, and awkward looks? And to top it off, a reeking odor that filled the room as you squirmed away?

Jokes are plenty on “passing wind,” but it can embarrass the life out of you. If farting is the bane of your life, we’ve got your back – pun unintended! Let’s find out what these smelly episodes could really be saying about your health and wellness.

F For Fart And Flatulence

Farting, flatulence, passing or breaking wind, call it what you may, is all about gas forming in your stomach for two reasons.

  1. Because of trapped air you accidentally swallow while breathing, eating quickly, or even drinking fizzy soda
  2. The bacteria in the intestine producing gas as part of digestion and the chemical reactions that breaks down the food you’ve eaten1

Flatus is mainly composed of nitrogen and carbon dioxide with traces of oxygen, hydrogen, methane, and other gases.

Releasing a certain bit of gas every day implies that your digestive system is working fine. Holding back can lead to abdominal pain and discomfort.

A healthy human body typically releases flatus 10–20 times a day.2 So, some amount of gas released from the body is normal and expected. Studies have shown that flatulence is quite equitable, with no significant difference between men and women, and younger and older folks.3

When Does It Stink?

A pungent fart can be traced back either to what you ate or some other underlying health condition.

Most of the time, farts are just a release of accumulated air and harmless on your olfactory nerves. But sometimes, it feels and smells as though a weapon of mass destruction has exploded. So when does a fart become particularly stinky?

When You Eat Wrong

When food containing sulfur is broken down by the body, the gas expelled has an unpleasant odor. This is true of only about 1% of the gas formed and released. So a diet rich in red meat; legumes; vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage; and dairy products can make the flatulence a stinky affair.

But if you’ve reined in the sulfur-rich food and are still hounded by pungent farts, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Due To Health Conditions

Observing a pattern could help pinpoint any specific food allergies or concerns.

  • Consuming dairy products, for example, may trigger abdominal pain, bloating, and excessive flatus with an odor. This could be due to lactose intolerance and can be further explored with your doctor.4
  • Excessive and smelly farts can also be an early indication of digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can be looked into in case of above-normal release of gas, often accompanied by abdominal cramps or constipation.5
  • When flatulence significantly stinky and of high volume, it could be indicating celiac sprue or celiac disease. This is a chronic digestive tract disorder where the body is unable to tolerate gliadin, the alcohol-soluble fraction of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.6 Identifying this, getting treated, and moving to a gluten-free diet can help prevent complications like anemia, osteoporosis, and even intestinal lymphoma.7

The Fire Inside

The ancient science of Ayurveda links flatulence or Adhyamaan to abnormal agni or fire inside a person. Agni levels veer to the abnormal due to multiple reasons:

  • Brain activity
  • Coordination of the senses
  • Weather

Any of these can disrupt the pittha dosha, which controls the effective functioning of the digestive system. For those with chronic flatulence issues, Ayurveda recommends avoiding foods that are difficult to digest, chewing food well to aid digestion, and using simple techniques like de-stressing with a good post-meal walk.8

The Bottom Line

Farting is all too common and is, quite frankly, a bodily function just as normal as burping or yawning. Unless an especially unpleasant odor fills the room every time!

Brushing it off as something you’ve eaten is mostly fine, especially if you’ve just polished off gassy foods like beans or broccoli. But if you do notice a pattern, which also includes excessive flatulence and abdominal issues like cramps after consuming dairy or certain other foods, it’s a good idea to check and rule out any larger health issue.

References   [ + ]

1. Kurbel, Sven, Beatrica Kurbel, and Aleksandar Včev. “Intestinal gases and flatulence: Possible causes of occurrence.” Medical hypotheses 67, no. 2 (2006): 235-239.
2. Furne, J. K., and M. D. Levitt. “Factors influencing frequency of flatus emission by healthy subjects.” Digestive diseases and sciences 41, no. 8 (1996): 1631-1635.
3. Pommergaard, Hans C., Jakob Burcharth, Anders Fischer, William EG Thomas, and Jacob Rosenberg. “Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go.” The New Zealand Medical Journal (Online) 126, no. 1369 (2013).
4. Swagerty Jr, DANIEL L., Anne D. Walling, and Robert M. Klein. “Lactose intolerance.” American family physician 65, no. 9 (2002): 1845-1850.
5. Koide, Akinori, Taketo Yamaguchi, Takeo Odaka, Hidehiko Koyama, Toshio Tsuyuguchi, Hiroshi Kitahara, Masao Ohto, and Hiromitsu Saisho. “Quantitative analysis of bowel gas using plain abdominal radiograph in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.” The American journal of gastroenterology 95, no. 7 (2000): 1735-1741.
6. Nicoleau, Aryel, J. D. Balzora, M. Chowdhury, D. Saw, M. Nussbaum, and D. Lorber. “Flatulence and carpopedal spasm: more than social embarrassment.” QJM 97, no. 2 (2004): 105-106.
7. Masoodi, Mohsen, Marjan Mokhtare, Shahram Agah, Mohammad Sina, and Mojtaba Soltani-Kermanshahi. “Frequency of Celiac Disease in Patients With Increased Intestinal Gas (Flatulence).” Global journal of health science 8, no. 6 (2015): 147.
8. Singhal, Pragya. “A clinical study to evaluate the efficacy of combined effect of Ayurvedic drugs and Basti in the management of constipation-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome vis-à-vis Pakvashayagatavata.” Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine (JAHM) 4, no. 1 (2016): 3-11.