Intestinal Gas Production
A considerable amount of gas is present in the gastrointestinal contents of all animals, and much of this is eliminated through the anus as flatus. Complaints of excessive gastrointestinal gas production in people and their pets are common. What we know about intestinal gas production and disposition has largely be gathered from studies with humans.
Five gases constitute greater than 99% of the gases passed as flatus: N2, O2, CO2, H2 and methane. None of these gases has an odor, and the characteristic odor of feces is due to very small quantities of a few other gases, including hydrogen sulfide, scatols and indoles. There is considerable individual variation in the contribution of each of these gases to total gas, but nitrogen typically predominates. Volume of gas elaborated also varies widely. In normal adult humans, the rate of excretion of gas per rectum ranges between 200 and 2000 ml per day. Ingestion of certain foods, beans being the classical example, is widely recognized to increase the rate of gas production.
There are three principal sources of the five major intestinal gases:
Intestinal gases are a frequent cause of minor, occasionally major, social embarrassment, but can they ever be of truly dangerous? Both H2 and CH4 are combusible and potentially explosive. In human hospitals, there have been many explosions in the colon triggered by use of electrocautery performed through a proctosigmoidoscope. Many of these cases occurred when mannitol, a fermentable carbohydrate, was used as a purgitive to cleanse the colon. Use of non-fermentable cleansing agents has virtually eliminated this kind of accident.
|Index of: The Large Intestine|
Last updated on July 11, 2006
|Author: R. Bowen|
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