Flatulence

Diagnosing flatulence

Flatulence does not usually require a medical diagnosis, unless you are also experiencing additional symptoms, such as persistent abdominal pain, or blood in your stools, which may suggest that you have an underlying digestive condition.

In these circumstances, a blood test can be used to check for the presence of infection, and to determine whether you have a condition that is linked to a food intolerance, such as coeliac disease, or lactose intolerance.

Your GP may also ask you detailed questions about your symptoms and your bowel movements, such as whether you have to strain to pass a stool, or if you experience abdominal pain after eating. This sort of information can be useful in confirming a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

If your additional symptoms are particularly severe, your GP may refer you for an endoscopy. An endoscopy is a procedure where a healthcare professional examines the inside of your stomach using a device called an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin, long flexible tube which has a light and a video camera at one end.

Glossary

Pain
Pain is an unpleasant physical or emotional feeling that your body produces as a warning sign that it has been damaged.
Constipation
Constipation is when you pass stools less often than usual, or when you are having difficulty going to the toilet because your stools are hard and small.
Blood
Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Stools
Stool (also known as faeces) is the solid waste matter that is passed from the body as a bowel movement.
Last updated: 04 October 2011

Continue to next section: Treating flatulence