Flatulence

What Causes Flatulence?

Flatulence can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose flatulence, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "flatulence" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Overconsumption
  • Poor Digestion
  • Diverticular Disease
  • Blastocystosis
  • Intestinal Obstruction
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Ovarian Cancer

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
meal-induced pain for 1-4 weeks
frequent meal-related bloating
having loose stools
frequent episodes of diarrhea
major unexplained weight gain
coffee consumption
constant abdominal fullness
past and future vaccination
occasional unexplained fevers
shortness of breath when at rest
recent onset vomiting
anal itching at night
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of flatulence:
Cause Probability Status
Ovarian Cancer 92% Confirm
Ulcerative Colitis 19% Unlikely
Poor Digestion 13% Unlikely
Diverticular Disease 3% Ruled out
Crohn's Disease 2% Ruled out
Overconsumption 1% Ruled out
Intestinal Obstruction 1% Ruled out
Blastocystosis 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Gastrointestinal Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about flatulence:
Do you suffer from excess lower bowel gas (flatulence)? The average adult passes gas ("farts") 8 to 20 times a day, but this depends on various factors. Try to compare yourself to others with similar diet and eating habits.
Possible responses:
→ No / average / only after overeating / don't know
→ Yes, but it is probably due to my diet
→ Somewhat more than most people
→ Very much more than most people
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate flatulence, excessive flatulence or severe flatulence, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Gallbladder Disease

Persistent and severe flatulence may be a symptom of gallbladder problems.

Lactose Intolerance

"Lactose malabsorption and lactase deficiency are chronic organic pathologic conditions characterized by abdominal pain and distention, flatulence, and the passage of loose, watery stools.  Once correct diagnosis is established, introduction of a lactose-free dietary regime relieves symptoms in most patients... who remain largely unaware of the relationship between food intake and symptoms." [Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 1999 Apr, 28:3]

Stress

Gas can be caused by stress and the nervous habit of frequent swallowing.

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