How To Know If Your Gas Is Healthy Or Not

by Isadora Baum, CHC
Originally Published: 
A woman in bed holding her bloated stomach, wondering if she's passing gas too often.

Farting: we all do it. No shame. But if you feel like you're passing gas too often in a day, it could be a sign of a larger problem. Not only will the stink alienate you from your co-workers (just sayin'), but it can also feel seriously uncomfortable. Signs you're passing gas too often can be easy to notice, as you're likely to smell it, hear it, and feel it. Instead of reverting to the "whoever smelt it dealt it" saying, consider checking your diet and lifestyle for ways to decrease the gas and bloating for greater ease and comfort.

"Flatulence is not necessarily caused by a condition or health problem," Dr. Niket Sonpal, an internist, gastroenterologist, and adjunct professor at Touro College, tells Bustle. "Usually, it is just food intolerance or normal gas from food digestion." But if all of a sudden, you're passing gas, like, a lot, in a way that's not normal for you, it's worth investigating what the possible culprits could be. No one needs to waste time wondering, "Why do I have so much gas?"

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on understanding their bodies and avoiding indigestion, inflammation, and bloating whenever possible. These three circumstances can make you feel uncomfortable, fatigued, and like you're not functioning at your top level, so it's best to target whatever might be causing you to be extra gassy and have poor digestion. While farting is totally normal, and farting a couple times in a day is actually good for you (your body needs to show it's digesting food properly and functioning up to par), too much gas can be burdensome. Here are eight signs you're way too gassy and need to tame it down.

1. You're Swallowing Too Much Air


According to Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director at BeWell Medicine, in an email to Bustle, swallowing too much air can increase gas. "Air swallowing or aerophagia is a major source of stomach gas. Too much aerophagia can be a manifestation of anxiety," says Ashe. Air swallowing doesn't just mean you're gulping oxygen out of nowhere, though; drinking gas-enhanced beverages, like seltzer or soda, can also make you pass gas more often. Gum chewing or smoking, Ashe says, are other ways extra air gets in your system.

2. You're Farting More Than 20 Times A Day

Passing gas "too much" is a totally subjective descriptor — what's too much for one person may be another person's reality. "One has to observe one's normal functions to notice when there is an increase in frequency," Sonpal says. But given that you probably don't count how many times a day you fart until you notice that you're farting an awful lot, it can be hard to know what your baseline really is. Ashe says that passing gas 20 or so times a day should be considered an upper limit for the typical range of gassiness; any more than that could signify a digestive issue.

3. You're Not Absorbing Nutrients Well

"Malabsorption of carbohydrates can lead to increased intraluminal gas and flatus," says Ashe. "Malabsorption can be the result of lactose intolerance or things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome," Ashe adds. If you're noticing a build up of gas, it could be a result of improper absorption of vital nutrients that your body needs to function well.

4. You're In Pain

If your gas is accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping, it could signify that your gas isn't normal and that there's a greater intestinal problem at hand, advises Ashe. "If flatus is accompanied by abdominal pain and bloating, you may be experiencing malabsorption and could have allergies to food and or Irritable Bowel Syndrome," says Ashe.

"If you are worried that you are farting too much and this symptom is accompanied by other issues like discomfort, constipation, blood in the stool, or diarrhea, you can consult your doctor to rule out things like indigestion, IBS, and gastroesophageal reflux disease," Sonpal says.

5. You're Taking Antibiotics


While antibiotics are lifesaving medicine, because they change the makeup of your gut microbiome, they can sometimes interfere with digestion, according to Ashe. "Antibiotics can alter bacteria in the intestine, cause increase flatus, as well as diarrhea," says Ashe. But antibiotics won't always spell gut issues — in fact, one 2016 study found that antibiotics could be a useful treatment for IBS when the primary symptom is gassiness. Always take the full recommended course of antibiotics when prescribed by your doctor to prevent antibiotic resistance, and supplement with a probiotic to restore your gut bacteria balance.

6. You're Eating Too Much Fortified Fiber

According to Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle, eating too many fortified fiber products, can produce excess gas. "The chicory root fiber often found in bars and other processed foods can cause stomach irritation and bloating," Shaw says.

7. You're Sensitive To Specific Foods

If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, especially to gluten or dairy (which are both widely prevalent), then you're bound to experience excess gas, abdominal distention, and poor digestion. Around 65% of the global population has lactose intolerance, according to the NIH, and around 18% of Americans are estimated to be sensitive to gluten. If you're eating these foods and notice discomfort, consider talking to a nutritionist or your GP about eliminating or cutting back on these particular foods.

8. You're Noticing Changes In Your Bowel Movements

According to Sonpal, if you notice a change in your bowel movement, such as going too frequently, it being too soft or hard, or it containing blood (rectal bleeding), it could signify a problem that is accompanying excessive gas. "Usually when there is a pain, discomfort or other accompanying symptoms like blood in the stool or bowel movements less frequently than three times a week, it is time to go in for a quick consult," she says.

If you are experiencing any of these digestive issues, it could mean that the amount of gas you're passing is too much and can potentially be dangerous (if not, at least super uncomfortable). Not everyone's gas is going to be "too much" for them — and we do need to pass gas every once in a while. But if you're uncomfortable with how much gas you're passing, the least you can do is talk to your doctor to set your mind at ease.


Dr. Niket Sonpal, adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine, Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences at Touro College

Dr. Lisa Ashe, DO, medical director at BeWell Medicine

Studies Referenced

Stefano, M. D., Fasulo, R., & Corazza, G. R. (2010). Rational Use of Antibiotics in the Treatment of Functional Bowel Disorders. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 3(8), 2380–2386. doi:10.3390/ph3082380

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