Flatulence (Farting) In Teens: Causes And Foods To Reduce

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Passing gas from the digestive system is called flatulence. It is commonly referred to as passing wind or farting. Teens usually find farting embarrassing and even amusing. However, farting is a normal biological process experienced by everyone. In fact, a person passes wind on an average of 5 to 15 times a day (1).

Read this post to know about the foods, medications, and other factors that cause excessive farting in teens and how to deal with it.

What Causes Farting?

The digestion of food can cause the formation of gases within the digestive tract. Also, a small amount of air is swallowed with food, water, or saliva. These gases are relieved from the digestive system through belching (burping) or flatulence (farting).

The following are the various reasons for flatulence in people, including teens (2) (3) (4).

Reasons For Farting In Teenagers
Swallowing excess air
  • Fast eating
  • Not chewing food properly
  • Smoking
  • Chewing gum
  • Habits of sucking fingers or top of the pen
Foods and drinks
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Pulses
  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Lentils
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Processed foods
  • Unrefined fiber foods, such as bran
  • Slimming products, sugar-free sweets, and sugar-free gums due to sweetener sorbitol
  • Fruit juices due to fructose sugar
Medications
  • Antifungal medications
  • Statins
  • Laxatives
  • NSAIDs (ibuprofen)
  • Champix (varenicline) used to stop smoking
Health condition

Certain foods with short-chain carbohydrates (FODMAPS), such as garlic and onion, are inadequately digested by the small intestine (5). These carbohydrates are then digested by colonic bacteria in the large intestine, which may increase gas production.

Carbonated beverages are often associated with gas, but they are more likely to cause burping than flatulence.

If your teen has flatulence due to medications, discuss with a pediatrician, who may prescribe alternative medicines.

What Makes Farts Smell?

The passed gas could sometimes have a bad smell due to the presence of sulfur compounds. Foods high in sulfur, such as broccoli, cabbage, onion, and garlic, may lead to smelly flatulence. Bacteria in the digestive tract also produce gases during digestion. These gases could have sulfur compounds (6). The type of food eaten and the bacterial composition in the digestive tract can influence the smelliness of flatulence.

The sulfur compounds account for only 1% of gas, and the remaining is made of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. It is normal for gas to smell and is seldom a cause for concern.

When To See A Doctor

Consult a general practitioner if your teen complains of increased farting and is frequently passing smelly gas. Visit a doctor if the teen has recurring episodes of any of the following signs or symptoms along with flatulence (6).

These issues may indicate digestive or other health problems, and a doctor may order tests for an exact diagnosis.

How To Avoid Excessive Farting?

The following changes in your teenager’s diet and lifestyle could help reduce excessive gas formation.

  • Eat small portions of frequent meals
  • Chew food and drink slowly
  • Avoid sugar-free chewing gums, candies, etc.
  • Have regular physical activity
  • Avoid gas-causing foods
  • Quit smoking

You may also consider child-safe over-the-counter medications for flatulence. However, dietary or lifestyle factors can usually provide relief without medications. If farting persists and you are concerned, then see a doctor.

What Foods Reduce Farting In Teens?

A healthy balanced diet with adequate fiber could help reduce excessive farting. Although fiber-rich foods may cause bloating in some teens, it is essential to eat about five portions of vegetables and fruits in a day.

Some foods with easy-digesting carbohydrates tend to produce less gas than others. The inclusion of these foods may help provide the teen relief from excessive flatulence (7).

  • Rice
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Sugar-free yogurt
  • Citrus fruits
  • Gluten-free foods
  • Leafy vegetables, such as spinach and lettuce
  • Vegetables, such as tomatoes and zucchini

It is not necessary that the same set of foods lead to flatulence commonly or provide relief. For instance, yogurt could ease gas in some teens but could worsen it in those with lactose intolerance. Therefore, you may ask your teen to note down the foods they have eaten on days when flatulence is more than normal. Next time, they may avoid or reduce the intake of such foods.

Farting is a normal biological occurrence experienced by people of all age groups. Rarely, farting can be a symptom of serious digestive disorders. If your teen has excessive farting, which is interfering with their life, seek medical help.

References:

1. Farting (flatulence); NHS UK
2. Flatulence; NHS Scotland
3. Lawrence K Leung, Francis M Patafio, and Walter W Rosser, Gastrointestinal adverse effects of varenicline at maintenance dose: a meta-analysis; NCBI
4. Parasites – Giardia; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
5. Gas – flatulence; U.S. National Library of Medicine
6. The Truth About Gas; LiveWell; UnityPoint Health
7. Tips on Controlling Gas; The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)

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