What to do when gas gets you down

Everyone has gas. Embarrassment sometimes prevents us from finding out what's normal, what's excessive, and what helps.

We all have it, and we all prefer not to talk about it. For one thing, gas is embarrassing: It departs the body, often audibly, through burps and flatulence. In certain circumstances, it produces tortured-sounding bowel noises called borborygmi. Gas can also be uncomfortable, causing abdominal pain and bloating—symptoms that may appear on their own or in conjunction with a problem such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The average adult releases intestinal gas 10–20 times a day, a total of one to three pints. Many people who complain of excessive gas actually have normal amounts of it; it's just that some people are more sensitive to its presence or less tolerant of its effects. Excessive gas rarely signifies anything serious, although a physician may want to investigate certain conditions that can cause it (see "Conditions associated with excess gas").

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