The most common symptoms of flatulence are burping, passing gas, bloating, and abdominal pain or discomfort. However, not everyone experiences these symptoms.
Burping once in a while, especially during and after meals, is normal. However, people who burp frequently may be swallowing too much air and releasing it before the air enters the stomach.
Some people who burp frequently may have an upper GI disorder, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease—a chronic condition in which stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. People may believe that swallowing air and releasing it will relieve the discomfort, and they may intentionally or unintentionally develop a habit of burping to relieve discomfort.
Passing gas around 13 to 21 times a day is normal. Flatulence is excessive gas in the stomach or intestine that can cause bloating and flatus. Flatulence may be the result of problems digesting certain carbohydrates.
Bloating is a feeling of fullness and swelling in the abdomen, the area between the chest and hips. Problems digesting carbohydrates may cause increased gas and bloating. However, bloating is not always caused by too much gas. Bloating may result from diseases that affect how gas moves through the intestines, such as rapid gastric emptying, or from diseases that cause intestinal obstruction, such as colon cancer. People who have had many operations, internal hernias, or bands of internal scar tissue called adhesions may experience bloating.
Disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can affect how gas moves through the intestines or increase pain sensitivity in the intestines. IBS is a functional GI disorder, meaning that the symptoms are caused by changes in how the digestive tract works. The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort, often reported as cramping, along with diarrhea, constipation, or both. IBS may give a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to normal amounts of gas.
Eating a lot of fatty food can delay stomach emptying and cause bloating and discomfort, but not necessarily too much gas.
Abdominal Pain and Discomfort
People may feel abdominal pain or discomfort when gas does not move through the intestines normally. People with IBS may be more sensitive to gas and feel pain when gas is present in the intestines.
(Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health)