I’ve been told I’m full of gas a couple of times.  I responded…”I am!”  Since the beginning of time, humans have been interested in their flatulence.  Take a look in the mobile app store and you will see many applications on the subject.  More disturbing are the videos on Youtube that range from the comical to the downright disgusting.  This flatus fascination is not because of the enormous volume of gas the gut produces every single day, but rather the offensive odor it sometimes carry. The earliest scientific study about flatus published 1816 discussed the quantitatively important non-odiferous gases that make up a normal Flatulence commonly referred to as fart. In fact, the word fart originates from old English word feortan which has deeper roots of Indo-European origins.  However, the hunger for knowledge motivated many experts to perform rigorous studies to identify the odiferous fecal compounds. In fact, some scientists even performed complicated laboratory procedures just to pinpoint the gases that produce such offensive odors.  I must admit, I laughed when going through scientific resources for this article but in all seriousness, it does takes a scientific look at flatulence to inform you the wonders of your normal human bodily function.

How much gas does the gut contain and how many milliliters of Flatulence does a normal person produce?

The gut is very active organ even in the molecular level. It usually contains less than 200 ml of gas. However, when colonic bacterial fermentation peaks, the gut can contain up to 2000 ml of stored gas.

How is flatus produced and what gases are included in the flatus?

Human beings technically don’t get all the credit in the production of their intestinal gases. Seventy-five percent of the flatus volume accumulates from the byproduct of the colonic bacteria’s metabolism and almost none comes from the air people swallow or the diffusion of nitrogen and other gases from the bloodstream. Gases with the most significant volumes in a normal flatus include carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen.

What is the normal number of gas passages per day?

A normal person passes gas 13 to 21 times every single day. However, the force, number of times a person passes gas and frequency of flatulence greatly varies from person to person. Using a diary to objectively record the flatus quality and frequency is the first important step needed for proper evaluation.

What are the gases responsible for the odor of human flatus?

The intensity of flatus odor correlates with the hydrogen sulphide concentration. Scientists who performed previous studies had a hard time identifying and quantifying the gases responsible to the Flatulence’s offensive odor. Most experts only assumed that sulfur-containing gases cause such odors. Dr. Levitt and his colleagues were the first scientists to fully document that hydrogen sulphide, together with methanethiol and dimethyl sulphide, is the gas responsible for the Flatulence’s offensive smell.

What are the types of flatulence?


Flatulence is a one of the most common causes of psychosocial short-term distress. According to the 14th edition of The Merck Manual, it has four distinct types:

  1. The crowded elevator type – the Flatulence is slowly and noiselessly released, sometimes with nauseating and devastating effects to the people who accidentally smell it.
  2. The “pooh” type (also known as open sphincter type) – the more aromatic and warmer type of flatus.
  3. The drumbeat type (a.k.a. staccato Flatulence) which the person pass pleasantly in privacy.
  4. The bark type – known for its exclamatory blast that effectively interrupts, and oftentimes concludes, a conversation.

What foods increase flatulence?

Patients, particularly those with malabsorption syndrome, produce large amounts of hydrogen when ingesting certain fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of indigestible carbohydrates, such as beans (200g of beans can produce up to 700ml of flatus per day), sugar alcohol, and sugars (eg, fructose).

Are intestinal gases responsible for functional abdominal pain?

Most people believe that the amount of intestinal gases is directly related to the intensity of functional abdominal pain. However, a study published by The New England Journal of Medicine proved that the amount of intestinal gases is not the one responsible for abdominal pain, rather the degree of gut distention causes such pain.

How do doctors manage excessive flatulence?

Doctors manage flatulence depending on the cause of flatus episodes and the degree of abdominal discomfort such episodes bring. Most physicians use probiotics and rifaximin to decrease the number of gas passages and the intensity of abdominal discomfort flatulence causes. Others prescribe oral bismuth subsalicylate to reduce the odor associated with flatus release.

Can airplane rides alter normal flatulence?

Changes in the cabin pressure during airplane rides can alter the volume of intestinal gases, thereby increasing the amount of the potential flatus, says a study published by The New Zealand Medical Journal. Holding back the flatus while inside the airplane can cause significant abdominal discomfort and other associated physical symptoms. To eliminate this problem, the experts who published this study advised people who have this flatulence dilemma to “let it go.” They also suggested the use of activated charcoal in airlines to improve the comfort of the rest of the passengers who happen to be in the “firing line”.

What devices can decrease flatus odor?

Experts from Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center discovered the perfect solution to decrease flatus odor. According to their study, underwear that contains carbon fibers is the best preventive measure for offensive-smelling flatus. Comparatively, pads that contain the same material are only 55 to 77 percent effective. Cushions, on the other hand, are ineffective in controlling flatus odor from spreading within a room full of people.