Flatulence, or intestinal gas, is a mixture of gases produced by anaerobic glycolysis of sugars by bacteria in the intestines. It is largely methane with some hydrogen sulphide, the latter of which gives it its smell (methane is largely odorless). The gas volume can be quite high and must escape the intestine either through defecation or expellation of gas through the anus.
All persons suffer from flatulence to some degree. It tends to be more prominent in:
- People who eat a lot of fat, as fat often interferes with digestion of sugars in the diet;
- People on a vegetarian diet, as they tend to digest a lot of complex sugars, such as cellulose, that can be digested by bacteria but not by the human body;
- Those with enzyme deficiencies, such as those who are lactose intolerant, as they cannot digest certain sugars such as the lactose in milk.
For people with severe flatulence, diets low in dairy products and high in low bulk simple sugars and protein may lessen the symptoms.
In Que Será Será, the firemen realized the patient was not dead despite his low body temperature, lack of pulse and low respiration rate because of his flatulence.