Although kids all over the world think fart jokes are hysterical, too much gas is no laughing matter when it happens to you. And that’s not just because it’s embarrassing.
Intestinal gas, which causes flatulence, is produced as the body breaks down food in the digestive process. Foods that lead to flatulence include good-for-you, high-fiber stuff like fruits and vegetables as well as fatty foods, which remain in the intestine longer and give gas a chance to build up. Other culprits: lactose intolerance and swallowing air while you’re eating or even when you’re just chewing gum.
An average person produces about one to four pints of gas every day, according to the National Institutes of Health. That’s the equivalent of passing gas (OK, farting) 14 to 25 times a day. If your numbers are higher than that for a few weeks, see your doctor to be on the safe side. And if the gas is accompanied by pain, diarrhea, bloody stools or vomiting, get to the MD right now. It could be caused by a variety of problems like cirrhosis, irritable bowel syndrome or even colorectal or ovarian cancer.
Prevention: Stop eating so fast and cut down on fizzy drinks and chewing gum. Beano, an enzyme sold over the counter, can help with high-fiber food. And take a walk after a meal (you should probably be doing that anyway.)
Lots of women — 6 million, actually– have them, but very few of us talk about them. Basically, hemorrhoids happen when too much pressure is put on the rectal area because of straining, diarrhea or constipation. The result: swollen veins inside or outside the rectum. Other causes: obesity, pregnancy and labor. Common symptoms include pain, itching and rectal bleeding. The good news is that hemorrhoids aren’t usually serious. The bad news is that you still need to talk to your doctor about them, because they can also be a sign of colorectal cancer.
Prevention/Treatment: Eat high-fiber foods, and make sure you drink enough water. You can take a sitz bath, meaning a soak in a warm bath a few inches deep, and use creams and cleansers. Severe cases require surgery, but chances are good you won’t have to deal with that.
Carol Kramer is a freelance writer and editor in New York City.