Dr Chris George

Back to Gut Basics: Excess Gas – with Dr Chris George

NHS GP Dr Chris George breaks down why we get excess gas, what it is, and GP-approved ways to help.

Excess gas: What is it?

Flatulence is passing excess gas out of the back passage from the digestive tract and commonly referred to as ‘passing wind’. Although it is very common it is often associated with embarrassment especially in social settings.

What are the common symptoms?

Excess gas can be caused by swallowing more air than usual or eating foods that produce excess gas leading to symptoms of burping and flatulence. In most cases excess wind is of no concern but in a small number of people it can be a sign of an underlying digestive disorder.

When swallowing food, drinks or even saliva you swallow small amounts of air which can accumulate in the digestive tract leading to symptoms of burping and flatulence. In most cases people are unaware of passing wind as it is odourless. Symptoms can be more troublesome when they are associated with noise and bad smells which often contain gases such as sulphur which have an odour.

4 GP-approved ways to help
  1. Avoid foods that produce gas which are commonly cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage etc.
  2. Eating smaller amounts of food more frequently.
  3. Ensuring that all food is well chewed with your mouth closed to avoid ingesting excess gas.
  4. Regular exercise may also help expel gas that can cause bloating and tummy pains.

When to see your GP?
The bottom line is if you notice any changes in your digestive symptoms or have concerns then you should speak to your GP. In clinic I often hear patients say that their symptoms are trivial and that they don’t want to waste resources, but this really shouldn’t be the case. If you’re worried or embarrassed, then writing things down or bringing a friend can sometimes help.

The emergency symptoms that require an urgent appointment include:
  1. Blood in the stool or on the paper
  2. Persistent change in bowel habit
  3. A pain or lump in the tummy
  4. Unexplained weight loss
  5. Extreme tiredness for no reason

Whilst in most cases these symptoms are nothing to worry about it is important to get checked up.

Find out more: 

Back to Gut Basics: Bloating 

Back to Gut Basics: Tummy cramps