A sudden burp on the phone with your colleague. Breaking wind while getting into downward-facing dog–we’ve all been there (some, more than others). Whether you call it burping, belching, or tooting, there are ways to manage excessive gas.

Gas in the stomach is primarily caused by air a person swallows while eating or drinking, and it’s released from the mouth as a burp. Gas that is passed by flatulence is caused by the body’s inability to absorb or digest some carbohydrates in the small intestine. Once this undigested food passes into the small intestine, bacteria break it down, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and sometimes methane.

Here are some of the main culprits when it comes to gas:

  • High-fibre foods like beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chewing gum
  • Eating too quickly or talking while chewing, which results in swallowing more air
  • Drinking through a straw
  • Consuming artificial sweeteners
  • Chronic intestinal diseases like coeliac disease and food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel

It’s common to experience some gas after eating – and to release it through belching or flatulence. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), passing gas up to 25 times a day is normal.

But if you’re experiencing painful gas and the embarrassment of chronic and foul-smelling flatulence, you can play detective and eliminate the cause with the following steps.

1. Avoid Foods Known to Cause Gas

One way to manage farting and belching is to eat fewer of the well-known gassy foods that are high in FODMAPs. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

“These are short-chain sugars or carbohydrates found in many foods that the small intestine (where the majority of digestion occurs) has a hard time absorbing,” explains Rabia de Latour, MD, a gastroenterologist and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City. “This then leaves them untouched for some of the gut bacteria in your colon to break down.”

In people who are sensitive to FODMAPs, the by-products of this breakdown (hydrogen gas) can cause symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, and flatulence.

Common foods containing FODMAPs include:

  • Fruit like apples and pears
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and onions
  • Whole grains like bran
  • Dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream
  • Beans

Some scientific evidence suggests a low-FODMAP diet can improve painful GI symptoms, including excessive gas. For example, a research review published in February 2021 in the European Journal of Nutrition determined that a low-FODMAP diet decreased digestive symptoms by a “moderate to large extent” compared with a control diet.

“When attempting a low-FODMAP diet, know what you are getting into,” Dr. de Latour advises. “It can be very restricting. To find your trigger foods, I recommend keeping a food diary and eliminating foods one by one to keep track of which food eliminations provide the most benefit.”

To make the process easier, consider working with a dietitian, who can help identify problem foods, suggest alternatives, and safely reintroduce foods to your diet you had previously eliminated.

2. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Sorbitol and related sugar alcohols are FODMAPs that are used in many sugar-free versions of foods. “Sorbitol is often the first ingredient in any brand of sugar-free gum I’ve found at local grocery stores,” says Stephen Bickston, MD, a professor of internal medicine and the medical director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at the Center for Digestive Health at VCU Health in Richmond, Virginia.

“One to two sticks [of gum] is akin to eating a prune.”

But the sugar substitutes that are found in popular soft drinks are not the kind that cause gas. The various packet sweeteners – yellow (sucralose), pink (saccharine), and blue (aspartame) – are not associated with gas or laxative effects.

3. Eat and Drink Slowly

When you eat or drink fast, you can swallow a lot of air, which can cause gas, says Dr. Bickston. The simple solution? Slow down when you eat. If you have dentures, check with your dentist to be sure they fit properly so you’re not gasping air while eating.

4. Don’t Fill Up on Air

Consider reducing or eliminating habits that cause your stomach to fill with air and lead to gas, like:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing gum
  • Drinking through a straw

5. Try Herbs for Gas Relief

Some research suggests that herbs may help relieve excess gas. For example, a review published in 2019 in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that peppermint oil significantly improved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including abdominal pain and bloating.

A review published in November 2018 in the journal Nutrients found that ginger helped speed digestion. If the stomach empties faster, gas can move more quickly to the small intestine to relieve bloating and discomfort.

Chamomile is thought to aid in a number of digestive issues, including upset stomach, bloating, and intestinal gas, by relaxing GI muscles and improving digestion, according to a research review.


If excessive gas is persistent or severe, consult your doctor – it could be a sign of a more serious digestive condition, such as:

Lactose intolerance

This is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. “I test with a milk challenge,” says Bickston. “The patient drinks a pint or two of milk – it can be any percent fat. What follows tells the patients whether they should limit their milk intake.” If avoiding milk reduces your symptoms you may be lactose intolerant.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

“Patients who meet the diagnostic checklist for irritable bowel syndrome suffer more pain at the lower levels of the abdominal cavity,” he says. You can get relief from IBS symptoms by trying a low-FODMAP diet to identify trigger foods, which a dietitian can help you with.

Colon cancer

“Excess gas is rarely the main symptom of patients with colon cancer,” Bickston notes. “But it does trigger my reflex to remind patients to get screened for colorectal cancer.”

Upper gastrointestinal disorders

Occasional belching is normal, but frequent belching may be a sign of an upper gastrointestinal disorder. These include peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

This is when there’s higher than normal amounts of bacteria in the small intestine, particularly those that are not typically found here. The excess bacteria can lead to GI symptoms like gas, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite. SIBO is a common complication of abdominal surgery and certain medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and coeliac disease.

Also, warns Bickston, if you’ve had abdominal surgery, a hernia, or significant weight loss or weight gain, never dismiss your gas-like symptoms as normal. Get them checked out.

As annoying as it might be, some gas is a natural by-product of the body’s digestive system. But if your gas is excessive, painful, or chronic, talk to your doctor about possible causes and remedies.