Flatulence, also known as farting, is the act of passing intestinal gas from the anus. Gas in the gastrointestinal tract has only two sources. It is either swallowed air or is produced by bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines, primarily the colon.

Swallowed air is rarely the cause of excessive flatulence. The usual source of flatulence is the production of excessive gas by intestinal bacteria. The bacteria produce various gases as they carry out their own digestion process.

In all of us, small amounts of air are continuously being swallowed and bacteria are constantly producing gas. Contractions of the intestinal muscles normally propel the gas through the intestines and cause the gas to be expelled. Flatulence (passing intestinal gas) prevents gas from accumulating in the intestines.

However, there are two other ways in which gas can escape the intestine.

First, it can be absorbed across the lining of the intestine into the blood. The gas then travels the blood, and ultimately gets expelled out through breath.

Second, gas can be removed and used by certain types of bacteria within the intestine. In fact, most of the gas that is formed by bacteria in the intestines is removed by other bacteria in the intestines. (Thank goodness!)


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