Gas is a common part of living. It’s a normal occurrence and nothing to be ashamed of. We pass gas 15 to 18 times each day. It happens when we swallow air while eating or drinking, or when we consume certain foods. Other causes are anxiety and dental problems, through increased air swallowing.
Foul-smelling gas can be caused by a range of reasons, from normal to potentially severe. The problem usually resolves itself within a day or two. It comes and goes based on what you eat. There are numerous reasons for this kind of gas. Most often it’s because of diet or medications. If you experience an abnormal amount, you may consider talking to your doctor.
Common causes of foul-smelling gas can be a food intolerance, high-fiber foods, certain medications and antibiotics, and constipation. More serious causes are bacteria and infections in the digestive tract or, potentially, colon cancer. If you suspect your foul-smelling gas is a symptom of a larger problem, your doctor can help diagnose the cause and create a treatment plan.
Remedies and Treatments for Foul-Smelling Gas
Gas isn’t something everyone around you wants to smell. If you find yourself having a lot of foul-smelling gas, it’s time to try home remedies and treatments. It can be relieved by a number of things, most of which you can do at home.
Below are ways to find relief for your gas:
Slow down when you eat. Chewing quickly and swallowing fast will cause more gas to be produced. Every time you swallow, air goes into your body. When you are making more gas, you are more likely to pass foul-smelling gas. Eating and chewing slowly reduces your air intake and can alleviate your gas. Slowing down can help you be more mindful as to what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.
Smaller portions are also important for reducing foul-smelling gas. When you eat smaller amounts of food, you make less gas during digestion. Having smaller portions will help your digestive tract work better, and soothe your stomach pains connected to your foul-smelling gas.
Take note of what you eat and how it makes you feel. It might be good to remove certain foods from your diet, and gradually reintroduce them to determine if you have an intolerance. You should start a journal while doing this to determine what certain foods do to your digestive tract. You may find that even if you don’t have an intolerance, some foods might not settle correctly in your stomach causing foul-smelling gas.
Avoid carbonated drinks like soda, seltzers, and beer. Limit cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, and also milk and other dairy products. Reduce the number of beans you eat. If you do consume beans, boil them first, then cook them again to remove sugars that cause gas.
Foul-smelling gas happens because of sulfur in your digestive tract. Eggs, meat, and cauliflower are all high in sulfur. You should reduce your intake of these foods to try and bring relief. If this does not work, there may be another cause of your foul-smelling gas.
Taking medications with enzymes like galactosidase (lactase) and alpha-galactosidase (Beano) helps reduce gas and bloating. If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) taking tegaserod maleate (Novartis) can also relieve foul-smelling gas.
If you do not find relief by trying these remedies, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor. They will be able to determine the cause and provide a treatment plan for you to follow.
When to See a Doctor
Contact your doctor if you’re passing an increased amount of gas — more than 20 to 30 times per day — and you experience the following as it may be a sign of a more serious issue:
- Taking medications don’t bring relief
- There are additional symptoms with gas pains
- Diet changes don’t improve gas symptoms
Normal gas varies in smell from person to person. Foul-smelling gas can occur for many reasons, but sometimes it can indicate serious issues. Talk to your doctor if you have consistently foul-smelling gas accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Bloody and inconsistent stool (poop)
- Change in frequency of bowel movements
- Unintentional weight loss
- Persistent or recurring nausea or vomiting
If you have foul-smelling gas accompanied by prolonged abdominal and chest pains, you should seek immediate care. This could be a symptom of a more serious issue.