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Does Flatulence Increase As You Age?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 01, 2021

Passing gas, farting, tooting, flatulence ... There are many names for what happens when your digestive system releases air through your rectum. Most of the time, flatulence is completely normal. Most people pass gas at least 14 times per day. 

Some people do it more, some people do it less. How often you pass gas depends on your diet, what medications you take, and other things. But many people have more flatulence as they age.

Why Do Older People Pass More Gas?

Some experts believe that as you get older, you fart more because your metabolism slows down. The food sits longer in your digestive system, creating more gas. Also, your stomach makes less of the acid needed to digest food well.

What’s more, your digestive system is made up of muscles. These muscles lose strength as you age, further slowing down your digestive system and possibly leading to more gas. 

Other reasons for you might pass more gas as you age could be:

  • Lack of digestive enzymes. As you get older, your body makes less lactase, the enzyme needed to digest dairy products. So, over time, you may have more gas when you eat cheese, milk, and other dairy products.
  • Medications. Some prescriptions cause constipation or bloating, which can also lead to more flatulence.

Some possible causes of flatulence that aren’t tied to aging include:

How to Manage Flatulence

You may want to talk to your doctor to get some advice, especially if your gas is loud or smelly.

Here are some tips that may help:

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water helps you avoid constipation, which may help your symptoms.
  • Exercise. Stay active for at least 30 minutes at least three or four times a week to keep things moving in your digestion.
  • Avoid dairy. Try removing dairy products from your diet to see if you may have become lactose intolerant.
  • Avoid veggies that cause gas. These include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and asparagus.
  • Ask your doctor about your meds. Find out if there are any alternatives that don't cause constipation, or that cause less flatulence.
  • Avoid soda. Carbonated drinks can cause gas.
  • Limit fermented foods. Foods like kimchi, tempeh, and kefir can cause more gas.
  • Do kegels. These pelvic floor exercises may help.
  • Eat slowly. Chew your food well. Eat slowly and mindfully, enjoying each bite.
  • Consider over-the-counter medicines. Ask your doctor if an OTC pill like alpha-D-galactosidase (Beano) or simethicone (Gas-X) might help your symptoms.
  • Try natural digestive aids. Mint tea or turmeric may help curb your gas.
  • Try an elimination diet. Talk to your doctor first. This type of diet may help you figure out if specific foods are causing your flatulence.
  • Consider a probiotic supplement. These supplements fill your digestive system with helpful bacteria that may help with your gas. Always talk to your doctor before you try a new supplement.
  • Avoid beans and lentils. They can cause more gas during digestion.
  • Don't chew gum. It can cause you to swallow air, leading to more gas.
  • Avoid eating on the go. Quickly scarfing down food in your car or while walking can cause more flatulence.

When to See a Doctor

Most of the time, gas is normal and perfectly healthy, even if you have more of it as you age. See a doctor if you have more gas than usual along with any of these symptoms:

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Brigham and Women's: "Gas: Beat The Bloat."

Cleveland Clinic: "Are You Passing Too Much Gas? 6 Tips for Relieving Flatulence," "5 Steps to Help Prevent Digestive Problems as You Age," "Kegel Exercises (Pelvic Floor Exercises)."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Gas (Flatulence)."

Mayo Clinic: "Intestinal gas,” "Belching, gas and bloating: Tips for reducing them."

Michigan Health: "Aging and Digestive Health: 6 Factors to Watch For."

Myhealth.Alberta.ca: "Medicines or Vitamins That Can Cause Gas, Bloating, or Burping."

National Health Service: "Farting (flatulence)."

NCBI: "Changing genes; losing lactase."‌

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