Flatulence

Flatulence, known as passing wind, is normal. There are things you can do if you pass wind a lot or it's smelly, see below. In some cases it can be a sign of a health condition.

About flatulence 

Passing wind is usually nothing to worry about. Everyone passes wind, some people more than others. The average is 5 to 15 times a day.

What's normal is different for everyone. If you notice a change or it's affecting your life, there are things you can do.

Things you can do to cut down excessive or smelly wind

There are things you can do to help cut down excessive or smelly wind. These include:

  • eating smaller meals, more often
  • drinking or chewing food slowly
  • exercising to improve how your body digests food
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • drinking peppermint tea
  • not chewing gum, smoking, or sucking pen tops or hard sweets to avoid swallowing air
  • not wearing loose-fitting dentures
  • not eating too many foods that are difficult to digest and make you pass wind

Getting help from a pharmacist  

You can speak to a pharmacist if you are concerned about excessive or smelly wind.

They might be able to suggest if:

  • you can buy something to help – for example, charcoal tablets or special underwear and pads that absorb smells
  • you should see a GP

 

When to see a GP 

You should see your GP if:

  • self help and pharmacy treatments haven't worked and flatulence is affecting your life
  • you've got a stomach ache or bloating that won't go away or comes back
  • you keep getting constipation or diarrhoea
  • you've lost weight without trying
  • there's blood in your poo
  • you have signs of an infection, like a very high temperature or feeling hot and shivery

Causes of excessive or smelly wind 

Excessive or smelly wind can be caused when you swallow air or eat foods that are difficult to digest. It can also sometimes be a sign of a health condition.

Don't self-diagnose – see your GP if you're worried about flatulence.

There are symptoms of excessive or smelly wind that are linked to a number of health conditions. These include:

Excessive or smelly wind can also be a side effect of some medicines, including:

You shouldn’t stop or change your medication without speaking to your GP first.

 

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information see terms and conditions.

This page was published February 2018

This page is due for review April 2021

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