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What Is Gas & Bloating?

If you suffer from gas and bloating (and their unfortunate symptoms), you're not alone. These are very common problems, and they’re totally normal.

Cartoon illustration of a man with unwanted gas coming out of his mouth.

What is gas?

Gas is a by-product of your body breaking down food for energy. But not all foods break down fully. Leftover carbohydrates stuck in your digestive tract can lead to gas. Gas can also be a result of eating too quickly and swallowing too much air. It happens more than you think! And when you swallow a lot of air, you tend to feel bloated.

What is bloating?

Funny that you ask. Bloating is caused by the buildup of gas in your stomach, colon, or intestines. And these organs can stretch, so they’ll expand when they’re filled with too much air, causing you to feel overly full and uncomfortable. It’s not a fun scene.

How is gas passed?

Eructation

Burps are how you expel gas from your stomach.
It’s a natural reflex to air being swallowed while eating or drinking too quickly. The gas you burp out after a meal is mostly oxygen and carbon dioxide. Taking your time while eating, and avoiding straws while drinking, can reduce the amount of air you swallow, and in turn, your gas.

Flatulence

This is when the gas in your intestines is expelled through your rectum.
These gases are a little more complex: they’re a blend of nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane, and less than 1% hydrogen sulfide. But it’s that 1% that gives gas its complex pungency.