Intestinal wind is a natural by-product of our normal digestive process. It only becomes a gastrointestinal problem if produced in excessive quantities. Under these conditions intestinal gas will result in excessive belching and flatulence. If this gas and air cannot escape, severe abdominal bloating and pain could be experienced. Trapped gas, also referred to as trapped wind, could be accompanied by severe bloating of the stomach. Trying to get rid of this gas can become a very difficult problem.
Normally our gut produces between 1 and 3 pints of gas per day, which is passed unnoticed about 14 times a day. This gas is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. The foul odor sometimes observed is usually the result of small traces of other gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.
Carbon dioxide is produced by chemical reaction in the small intestine. Hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane are produced in the large intestine through the process of bacterial fermentation.
Carbonated drinks may release carbon dioxide in the stomach and so may be a source of gas.
Adding to this gastrointestinal problem is the fact that we tend to swallow a fair amount of air. The air we breathe contains nitrogen and oxygen and when this is swallowed air travels through the digestive system.
Air swallowing (aerophagia) is a common cause of gas in the stomach. Everybody swallows a small amount of air when eating and drinking. Eating or drinking too quickly, smoking, chewing pen tops or gum can contribute greatly to the amount of swallowed air in your intestine.
Swallowed air makes up a small fraction of intestinal gas, on the other hand the bloating gas you feel in your stomach is almost entirely a consequence of swallowed air. Air may be swallowed with or without the swallowing of food or liquid.
Often the swallowing of air is part of the act of trying to belch or to relieve the feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen. You may not even be aware that air has been swallowed. This is sometimes called yo-yo belching because the air goes down and comes right back up.
Intestinal gas retention and body posture
Studies have shown that an upright body posture will assist intestinal wind expulsion. An upright posture will reduce the incidence of trapped gas and bloating. This is an important factor in reducing abdominal wind pain.
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