Celebrities do it. Babies do it, and so does your boss. Kings, queens, astronauts, your mom, and your grade one teacher do it. You do it. No matter how well-mannered or sophisticated you try to be, there's really no way to avoid belching or breaking wind from time to time.
Our bodies produce gas when we break down food. Our bodies also take in gas when we swallow air, especially when we chew gum, eat food quickly, or smoke. Once inside, it journeys through the digestive system. Your body absorbs most of the gas you swallow or produce and the remaining amount becomes burping, flatulence, or bloating.
Whether it's a quiet, hiccup-like burp or a bellowing, rolling belch, burps are all due to the same thing: swallowed air. We swallow some air along with our food whenever we eat and gulp it down. And if we're having carbonated drinks, drinking through a straw, or socializing and chatting during a meal, even more air finds its way into our bellies.
The air that's in the stomach needs to escape, and as it rises up out of our insides, it rumbles and vibrates in the digestive tract, creating the unique and varied noises of a belch. Sometimes, the air can escape through the lower esophageal sphincter while eating, since this opens up while swallowing and releases the air from the stomach.
If swallowed air doesn't make its way out in the form of a burp, it may migrate from the stomach down into the colon. Here is where a burp can become a fart. Gas in the colon also comes from the natural breakdown of food by bacteria in the colon. The food that is not digested in the stomach and small intestine moves to the large intestine for breakdown; this includes carbohydrates such as undigested fibre from fruits and veggies or lactose after eating dairy products.
And as with a belch, flatulence needs to flee our body. This time it passes through a different sphincter, the anal sphincter, but the concept is the same: Air vibrates as it passes through a tiny, pinched up opening and out comes that familiar whoopee cushion sound of passing gas.
And that odour that most people are afraid of others detecting? That actually comes from the bacteria that break down the food in the colon. This bacteria release small amounts of sulphur-containing gases. Yes, the same "rotten-egg" sulphur of stink bomb fame.
Bloating isn't something you hear or smell, but you will likely feel it. Bloating is the particular sensation of fullness and swelling caused by gas that builds up in the stomach and intestines. The bloating may cause some abdominal pain or discomfort, especially right after you eat. It can accompany burping or breaking wind or be caused by a medical condition that affects the digestive system. Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance may experience frequent bloating.
Though gas is often to blame for that bloated feeling, it can also be caused by fluid retention. Women may experience this type of bloating before their menstrual period, but men can also retain fluid. Eating salty foods can also leave you feeling blown up. As excess sodium waits to leave your body through the kidneys, your body works to dilute it, causing the feeling of water-retention-related bloating.
You can't get rid of gas completely. You need it for healthy digestion. You can, however, reduce its buildup and its impact.
Did you find what you were looking for on our website? Please let us know.