What is the Cause of Passing Gas That Burns and Smells Bad?

Why am I passing gas that burns and smells bad? Your digestive system produces gas with every meal that you eat, usually anywhere from 5 – 15 times a day. These gases include nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.

Passing Gas That Burns and Smells Bad

Farts that emit foul smells could be an indicator of an underlying medical issue ranging from food allergies or intolerances to IBS.

Causes

Passing gas is a normal part of digestive function. But sometimes farts from gas produced can smell bad and be uncomfortable, often as a result of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract or certain foods such as meat, eggs, cabbage onions garlic or excessively fatty food being digested too quickly by our bodies. According to gastroenterologist Jacqueline Wolf MD it could also be due to lactose intolerance or an imbalance of gut bacteria.

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Lactose intolerant individuals often exhibit flatulence with an unpleasant sulfurous aroma due to their inability to break down sugar found in milk and dairy products, often accompanied by pain, bloating, or cramps.

Diets high in fiber may also contribute to foul-smelling gas emissions, since fiber digested through digestion releases sulfur-containing compounds with unpleasant odors that produce gaseous by-products. But you can prevent this by chewing food properly and eating smaller portions, which reduce the amount of air swallowed during digestion. Taking an alpha-galactosidase gas reducer like Beano can also help process fiber without creating unnecessary smells.

Failing to fart regularly may be a telltale sign of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), in which too many bacteria proliferate within the small intestine and cause nutritional absorption issues as well as symptoms like bloating and gas. SIBO can be treated using probiotics and prebiotics while decreasing consumption of animal proteins, carbonated beverages, alcohol beverages, beans cauliflower cabbage broccoli processed food etc.

Treatment

Passing gas is a natural part of digestion, yet some individuals experience it more frequently than others. At times it may even become loud and stinky. If this is something you are experiencing there are various things you can do to ease it.

Keep a food diary to track what foods cause flatulence for maximum efficiency. Another effective solution may include eating smaller meals and more frequently to limit fiber and cruciferous vegetable consumption that can trigger gas. Also try taking digestive enzyme supplements and chewing your food slowly so as to reduce air consumption during each meal.

If you experience frequent and persistent gas symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating or feeling fullness, weight loss, blood in your stool or changes in bowel habits – these should be taken as indicators that could indicate an underlying disorder of the digestive tract such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Your doctor may order blood tests, stool samples and pelvic exams to rule out these or any other health conditions that could be contributing to your discomfort. He might also request you keep a food diary and suggest certain foods or medications as possible solutions for relieving discomfort.

Prevention

Passing gas that burns and smells bad is a natural, organic process; however, when excessive or combined with other symptoms it could signal serious medical concerns. If someone begins experiencing pain, cramping, diarrhea or cramped stools alongside foul-smelling flatulence they should seek medical advice immediately.

Offensive farts may be caused by eating foods that do not digest easily, including animal protein and fiber-rich cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans and cabbage – especially when combined together – producing sulfuric compounds which create that foul rotten egg smell in gas emissions.

Some individuals also suffer from food allergies or sensitivities that cause smelly gas, including lactose intolerance or celiac disease. Foods containing gluten can lead to malabsorption and inflammation of the digestive tract, producing unpleasant-smelling gas in its wake.

Locating and eliminating foods that lead to smelly gas can help alleviate this type of discomfort, as can chewing slowly and eating smaller portions. Over-the-counter antacids may also help relieve gas smell. If neither diet changes nor over-the-counter medication have helped with smelly gas issues, an evaluation by a physician should be scheduled as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

Everyone produces intestinal gas, yet most of it goes unnoticed until it enters our breathing through burping or passes through the rectum (flatulence). Most of this gas consists of innocuous nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide odorless gases; but farts produce hydrogen sulfide with its distinct smell that gives farts their distinctive sound. Pungency depends on bacteria present in your large intestine, food consumed and speed of ingestion.

At times, an increase or decrease in gas production could be an indicator that something more serious is going on with your digestive tract. Constant belching could indicate you’re swallowing too much air before or after meals; frequently or excessive gas and bloating could indicate chronic intestinal conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Gas that “burns” and smells foul could be a telltale sign of dumping syndrome, a condition in which stomach contents pass too quickly into the small intestine, leading to diarrhea, nausea and other symptoms such as sweating abdominal pain dizziness and irregular heartbeat. If this sounds familiar it’s essential that you visit a primary care physician as soon as possible – virtual urgent care at UnityPoint Health provides access to providers across all timezones!