Home Symptoms Avoid and treat flatulence

Avoid and treat flatulence

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 290 views

Almost everyone has bloating (flatulence) from time to time. There is too much air in the intestines, which presses and pinches. Flatulence is usually not associated with illness and will go away on its own. They are often caused by poor diet, fast food or stress. If other symptoms occur, they can indicate a disease.

quick overview

  • What is flatulence? too much air in the stomach – the stomach is distended (meteorism). There is often an increase in intestinal wind (flatulence).
  • Causes: high-fiber or flatulent foods (cabbage, legumes, onions, etc.), carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, swallowing air through hasty eating or speaking while eating, stress, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerance (such as lactose intolerance, celiac disease), Food allergy, disturbance of the intestinal flora (e.g. as a result of antibiotic therapy), functional disturbance of the pancreas ( pancreatic insufficiency ), intestinal obstruction, intestinal cancer, cirrhosis of the liver ; in babies: three-month colic
  • Treatment: defoamers, digestive and antispasmodic agents, home remedies; if necessary, treatment of the underlying disease
  • Prevention: avoid food and drinks that are difficult to digest and flatulent (e.g. greasy food, cabbage, beans, carbonated drinks), use digestive spices when cooking ( cumin , anise , marjoram, etc.), eat slowly and chew thoroughly, several small meals a day instead less large portions, sufficient exercise and sport (e.g. digestive walk, swimming , cycling)

Flatulence: causes

Having some air in the intestines and expelling it through the anus in the form of bowel gas is perfectly normal. The unpleasant odor that can occur is also not unusual. It is caused by intestinal bacteria that produce sulphurous gases when they break down food residues.

How people perceive bloating varies. Some people find even small amounts of gas in their abdomen disturbing, while others are less sensitive in this respect. Flatulence that occurs sporadically and without other accompanying symptoms has no clinical significance. In some cases, however, they are symptoms of a disease.

How intestinal gases are formed

Intestinal gases are mainly produced during digestion – especially when high-fiber foods or large amounts of carbohydrates or protein are broken down by the intestinal bacteria. The microbes produce hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide, among other things. Most of these gases enter the blood and are exhaled through the lungs . The rest escapes through the intestines.

What causes bloating?

In the vast majority of cases, bloating is harmless and can be attributed to poor diet and lifestyle habits. But there can also be illnesses behind it.

Flatulent foods and drinks

For example, cabbage, legumes and onions can cause severe flatulence. Rich, greasy or sweet foods also lead to increased gas formation in the stomach. The enzymes present there cannot then completely break down the nutrients, and bacteria become active.

Fizzy drinks, alcohol and coffee can also cause flatulence.

Another reason for flatulence can be the sudden change in diet to whole grain products, because the digestive tract has to adapt to the unfamiliar food. A large part of the indigestible dietary fiber found in whole grain products is broken down by bacteria in the large intestine . This creates waste products that can lead to bloating.

swallowing air (aerophagia)

Those who devour their meals hastily swallow about twice as much air as slow eaters – and this accumulates in the intestines.

lack of exercise

Anyone who spends most of their day sitting down is also more prone to flatulence: lack of exercise makes the intestines more sluggish and promotes flatulence.

psychological triggers

Knots in the stomach , stones in the stomach – a negative mental state has a significant impact on digestion. Stress and anxiety disrupt digestion and can also cause flatulence.


Bloating during pregnancy is not uncommon. The mother’s body produces the hormone progesterone . It relaxes the muscle tissue of organs including the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. This slows down digestion. This makes it easier for flatulence to occur. When illnesses cause flatulence


Flatulence is rarely caused by illness. These include, for example, food allergies and food intolerances. Very rarely, life-threatening diseases cause flatulence. The most important disease-related causes of bloating are:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome : In irritable bowel syndrome, the function of the digestive tract is disturbed. In addition to flatulence, there is pain, cramps and discomfort as well as changes in the stool.
  • Milk sugar intolerance (lactose intolerance): People with lactose intolerance cannot break down milk sugar (lactose) into its individual components. The lactose is then broken down by gut bacteria, which can cause bloating, abdominal pain or cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Gluten intolerance (celiac disease): In the case of gluten intolerance, the body reacts hypersensitively to the gluten protein found in cereals. Typical symptoms of this form of food intolerance are flatulence, weight loss, chronic diarrhea and nausea.
  • Food allergies : Some people are allergic to certain foods, such as nuts, fruit, or milk. Eating the allergy triggers causes, for example, flatulence, itching, swelling in the mouth, diarrhea and skin eczema .
  • Disturbance of the intestinal flora : Flatulence can also occur when the intestinal flora is out of balance, for example as a result of taking antibiotics.
  • Pancreatic disease : If the pancreas is weak, it causes problems, especially with the digestion of fatty foods. Those affected get flatulence and a bloated stomach, belching, severe cramps and sometimes diarrhea.
  • Colon cancer (colorectal carcinoma): Colon cancer is a malignant growth in the intestine. In addition to chronic flatulence and irregular digestion, a change in the stool and the blood it contains can be an indication of colon cancer.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver : Severe flatulence also occurs with cirrhosis of the liver. Other symptoms include fatigue, poor performance, loss of appetite, nausea, constipation and pressure under the right costal arch.
  • Intestinal obstruction : This usually manifests itself initially as constipation, abdominal pain and flatulence. Causes of the occlusion can be a paralysis of the intestinal movement (peristalsis), scarring adhesions after an operation, Crohn’s disease and tumors or foreign bodies in the intestine.

Location of small and large intestine:

Flatulence in babies and children

Especially in the first three months of life, babies very often suffer from gas (flatulence). Gases inflate the little one’s stomach painfully. Some air enters the digestive tract simply by swallowing when drinking. For this reason, infants should “burp” after drinking. This allows air to escape from the stomach.

Food intolerances

Food intolerances can be just as difficult for children as they are for adults. Intolerance to milk sugar (lactose intolerance) or gluten (celiac disease) and functional disorders of the pancreas (pancreatic insufficiency) impair digestion and thus promote flatulence.

Key word: three-month colic

Some infants cry excessively, especially in the early evening hours. The most common cry babies are found in the 0 to 3 month age group. The affected children suffer from the so-called three-month colic. This outdated term spells out what used to be thought to be the cause of excessive screaming—a lot of air in the abdomen, causing abdominal pain and bloating.

It is now assumed that the air in the little one’s stomach is the result and not the cause of all the crying (gasp when crying violently and continuously!). Instead, the reason for the crying attacks is suspected to be that the affected babies still have problems calming themselves. They may also be more sensitive than their peers and therefore more quickly overwhelmed by environmental stimuli. In any case, three-month colic is now considered a regulatory disorder (just like feeding and sleeping disorders in babies) – the affected infants have not yet managed to take the development step to regulate their behavior in certain contexts (self-soothing, crying, sleeping, etc.) appropriately.

anti-bloating remedies

Bloating is usually harmless and will go away on its own. If you want to do something about the bloating, you can try various home remedies. If they don’t help, talk to your doctor about it.

Flatulence: home remedies

There are various home remedies for flatulence . Tea, warmth and massage – you can find out here what will help you.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse, you should always consult a doctor.

Tea against flatulence

Various herbal teas have a deflating effect and relieve abdominal pain. Suitable medicinal plants are:

You can also crush a mixture of 50 grams each of aniseed, fennel and caraway, pour 150 milliliters of boiling water over a teaspoon of this mixture and leave covered for ten minutes. Drink a cup several times a day to relieve gas.

warmth against flatulence

What else helps against flatulence is heat. It relaxes the bowels. A hot water bottle or a grain pillow (cherry stone pillow) are suitable . If you want to intensify the effect, you can place a damp washcloth between the hot-water bottle and your stomach (moist warmth).

Belly pad with chamomile : A moist, hot belly pad with chamomile has a pain-relieving, cramp-relieving and relaxing effect. To do this, pour half a liter of boiling water over one to two tablespoons of chamomile blossoms, leave covered for five minutes and strain off the plant parts.

Place a rolled up inner towel in a second towel and roll up to form a wrap. Soak this in the hot tea with the ends hanging out, wring it out. Place the inner cloth around your stomach without any creases. Wrap a dry cloth around. Remove after 20-30 minutes and rest for half an hour. Use maximum twice a day.

Potato wrap : The warmth of a potato wrap (or potato pad) has a relaxing, pain-relieving effect and promotes blood circulation. Boil the potatoes until soft, drain and let the steam evaporate. Place on a towel and mash with a fork.

Place an intermediate cloth on your stomach, close the pad to form a packet and place on top. Fix with an outside cloth (e.g. towel) and leave on for 30 to 60 minutes. Then rest.

As soon as the heat becomes uncomfortable, remove the wrap or pad immediately.

Abdominal massage and embrocation

Gentle massages are also a proven home remedy for flatulence.

Abdominal massage : A gentle abdominal massage can activate the natural movement of the intestines, relieve tension, alleviate gastrointestinal complaints and help against flatulence. To do this, use both hands to rub your stomach in a clockwise direction with gentle pressure for several minutes. This home remedy is particularly suitable for children.

Abdominal rub : A abdominal rub with diluted fennel, lemon balm, chamomile or caraway oil warms, relieves cramps and pain and stimulates digestion. To do this, warm a few drops of oil in your hands and rub gently on your stomach in a clockwise direction for a few minutes. Don’t work with too much pressure. Then cover and let rest for about half an hour. Repeat several times a day as needed.

Some essential oils can cause shortness of breath in children and babies. You should always discuss the application with your pediatrician first.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse, you should always consult a doctor.

anti-bloating medication

There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications to choose from to treat severe flatulence. They have a defoaming, antispasmodic or digestive effect. They are available in different preparations, such as drops or capsules.

Defoaming agents : They reduce the surface tension of the foamy vesicles in the chyme, in which gases are trapped. This allows the gases to escape, be reabsorbed into the body or pass out through the anus. Defoamers have a purely physical effect and do not get into the blood. They should be taken with meals or in the evening before bed. Well-known representatives of this group of active ingredients are simethicone and dimeticone.

Digestive enzymes : Some people cannot properly digest foods that contain fat, protein, or carbohydrates. The reason for this is that the glandular cells of the digestive tract (in the stomach, pancreas and liver) do not produce the appropriate digestive enzymes in sufficient quantities. Bloating is the result. Drugs that contain the missing enzymes can help here. They should be taken with meals so that the food is better digested.

Antispasmodics : Antispasmodics such as butylscopolamine, mebeverine or trospium chloride can help against flatulence that is associated with colicky abdominal pain. They relax the muscles of the intestine. Some of these drugs require a prescription.

Flatulence: Prevention

Flatulence is harmless in most cases and is caused by poor living and eating habits. Therefore, you should note the following:

  • Avoid foods that cause flatulence : every bean makes a little sound, as the saying goes. Bloating is most often caused by “explosive” foods. If the triggers of flatulence are known, those affected can easily remedy the situation by avoiding them. Die-hard bean fans, for example, should soak the legumes for twelve hours and cook them for a long time. This reduces the gas-forming properties. Also, be careful with onions, collard greens, unripe fruit, freshly baked bread and coarse (heavy) whole grain bread, and carbonated drinks.
  • Light diet : Eat primarily foods that are easy to digest. High-fat, heavy and sumptuous meals are extremely challenging for the digestive tract and can easily lead to bloating.
  • Helpful spices : Use digestive spices such as cumin, aniseed, marjoram or coriander as often as possible in the kitchen to prevent gas and indigestion.
  • Enjoy instead of swallowing : Take your time when eating, chew thoroughly and speak little during the meal. That way, not as much air gets into the intestines. Incidentally, several small meals throughout the day are cheaper than a few large ones.
  • Intestines on the go : Exercise and sport get the intestines going. If you don’t like exercise, at least try a little post-meal digestive walk. Home remedies such as a hot water bottle, circular abdominal massages and herbal teas such as caraway or chamomile tea can also be helpful.

When should you see a doctor?

Bloating is usually harmless. Only in rare cases is a serious illness behind the annoying symptoms. However, you should see a doctor in the following cases:

  • The flatulence is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, vomiting and altered bowel movements.
  • They keep coming back in certain contexts.
  • They last for a longer period of time.

What does the doctor?

In order to get to the bottom of the cause of the flatulence, the doctor will first ask questions about your medical history (anamnesis). The flatulence or the meteorism can be described in more detail and inquires about any other symptoms (stomach pain, changes in stool, nausea, etc.). He will also ask about your diet and lifestyle habits as well as any underlying diseases.

The doctor then feels the abdomen and checks the bowel sounds with the stethoscope. If he suspects that an organic disease is the reason for the flatulence, he initiates further investigations. These include, for example, an ultrasound examination (sonography) of the abdomen, stool examinations or tests for food intolerance such as a lactose tolerance test.

If the findings show that the cause of the flatulence is a disease that requires treatment, the doctor will suggest a suitable therapy.

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