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in & around Flatulence

Flatulence is the expulsion through the rectum of a mixture of gases that are byproducts of the digestion process. The medical term for the mixture of gases is flatus, informally known as a fart, or simply (in American English) gas. The gases are expelled from the rectum in a process colloquially referred to as "passing gas", "breaking wind" or "farting". Flatus is brought to the rectum by the same persistaltic process which causes feces to descend from the large intestine. The noises commonly associated with flatulence are caused by the vibration of the anal sphincter, and occasionally by the closed buttocks. Flatus is brought to the rectum by the same process which causes feces to descend from the large intestine, and may cause a similar feeling of urgency and discomfort. Researchers investigating the role of sensory nerve endings in the anal canal did not find them to be essential for retaining fluids in the anus, and instead speculate that their role may be to distinguish between flatus and feces, thereby helping detect a need to defecate or to signal the end of defecation.

The sound varies depending on the tightness of the sphincter muscle and velocity of the gas being propelled, as well as other factors, such as water and body fat. The auditory pitch (sound) of the flatulence outburst can also be affected by the anal embouchure. Among humans, flatulence occasionally happens accidentally, such as incidentally to coughing or sneezing or during orgasm; on other occasions, flatulence can be voluntarily elicited by tensing the rectum or "bearing down" on stomach or bowel muscles and subsequently relaxing the anal sphincter, resulting in the expulsion of flatus. Intestinal gas is composed of varying quantities of exogenous sources (air that is ingested through the nose and mouth) and endogenous sources (gas produced within the digestive tract). The exogenous gases are swallowed (aerophagia) when eating or drinking or increased swallowing during times of excessive salivation (as might occur when nauseated or as the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease). The endogenous gases are produced either as a by-product of digesting certain types of food, or of incomplete digestion. Anything that causes food to be incompletely digested by the stomach and/or small intestine may cause flatulence when the material arrives in the large intestine, due to fermentation by yeast or prokaryotes normally or abnormally present in the gastrointestinal tract.

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