Gas and gas pains occur when gas builds up in the intestines. The pain is associated with the inability to expel the gas. Anything that causes intestinal gas or is associated with constipation or diarrhea may lead to gas pains.

Most people pass gas at least 10 times a day. Passing intestinal gas (flatus) is not serious but it can be embarrassing and it might occur at any time.

Although gas and gas pains cannot be prevented, a few simple measures may help reduce the amount of gas produced and relieve discomfort and embarrassment.



Symptoms of gas and gas pain include:


  • Voluntary or involuntary passing of gas (belches or flatus)
  • Sharp, jabbing pains or cramps in the abdomen (pains can occur anywhere in the abdomen and can change locations quickly)
  • A knotted feeling in the abdomen
  • Swelling and tightness in the abdomen (bloating)


In some cases, gas pains may be constant or so intense that it feels like something else is wrong.


Gas can sometimes be mistaken for:


  • Heart disease
  • Gallstones
  • Appendicitis



Gas forms when bacteria in the colon ferment carbohydrates that are not digested in the small intestine. Healthy, high-fiber foods are often the contributing factors.


High-fiber foods that commonly cause gas and gas pains include:


  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and peas (legumes)


Fiber supplements containing psyllium may also cause problems with gas, especially if added to the diet too quickly. Carbonated beverages (soda and beer) may also cause gas.


Other causes of gas and gas pains include:


  • Swallowed air
  • Another health condition (diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • Food intolerance (dairy and gluten)
  • Artificial additives (sweeteners)
  • Constipation


Risk factors

Factors that increase the likelihood of gas problems include:


  • Lactose or gluten intolerance
  • Diet rich in high-fiber foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chronic intestinal condition (irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease)


Age and sex have no effect on how often one passes gas.