No matter what you tell your significant other, it’s pretty much a given that you fart on the regular.
In fact, if you’re like most people, you probably do it several times per day.
But if you find that you seem to be tooting more than usual, it’s natural to wonder if you’re going overboard in the gas department.
It turns out, what’s considered “normal” for passing gas is probably more than you’d think.
The average person has about 0.5 to 1.5 litres of gas hanging out in their digestive track per day, according to Dr Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
However, the actual amount of gas that you fart out varies, and it’s hard for doctors to put an exact number on it.
There’s a general thought that guys tend to be gassier than girls, but it’s a total myth.
“Research has not shown that gas production is gender-specific,” Dr Lashner says. Women and men alike both can toot up to 20 times per day and still be considered in the “normal” range, Dr Staller adds. “That’s pretty common for all of us,” he adds.
Wait, 20 times per day? Right now, you might be thinking, “well, I certainly don’t fart that much.” But, oh, you do. It turns out that we all expel gas, not only when we’re awake, but also as we snooze. It’s a reflex, after all.
Again, exactly how much you fart at night varies, but unless your middle-of-the-night farting is so bad that it’s waking you or your bed buddy up, it’s probably nothing to worry about, Dr Staller says.
Why so gassy?
We all get gassy one of two ways: by swallowing air (think: chewing gum or using a straw) or when the bacteria in your gut burps up gas after noshing on the foods in your digestive tract, says Dr Ashkan Farhadi, a gastroenterologist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center and director of Memorial Care Medical Group’s Digestive Disease Project in Fountain Valley, California.
“The most common reasons for your body to produce extra gas are things you can’t absorb or digest,” he says. If your body can’t absorb or digest certain nutrients, they then go on to your colon where the natural bacteria that live there have a feast – and produce more gas, Dr Staller explains.
(By the way, that bacteria is harmless and helps you digest your food, says Dr Bret Lashner, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic.)
Of course, there are some things that can make you fart more than average and, if you’re struggling with gas issues that are affecting your life, it’s understandable that you’d want to know what’s up.
Everyone’s trigger is different, but there are a few that tend to cause problems in a lot of people, Dr Staller says.
Right now, FODMAPs – fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols – are getting a lot of attention as gas-producing compounds. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are contained in a lot of foods, even healthy ones like veggies and dairy.
And because they bypass digestion in the stomach and small intestines, and are instead digested by the bacteria in your large intestine, excessive gas can be a result in people with sensitivities.
If you notice you’ve been farting more than usual, look for those ingredients in your diet and do trial and error elimination to see if it makes a difference, Dr Farhadi says.
If all else fails, and your gas is affecting your quality of life, seek medical help.
“If it’s bothersome or you can’t reasonably control it, talk to your doctor,” Dr Staller says.