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What Makes Flatulence Smelly?
What makes flatulence smelly? Flatulence sometimes has a very unpleasant smell beccause it consists of gases. These gases are listed here from the highest concentration to the lowest:
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Methane
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Hydrogen
So flatulence is made up mainly of nitrogen, and not methane, as commonly believed. In fact, some evidence suggests that two out of three people do not expel methane in their flatulence. Most of the methane producing bacteria are found inside the intestine. Methane and hydrogen are flammable, so some people's flatulence can ignite fire.

The majority of these gases are absorbed by the bowel wall (about 6.4 liters, composed of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane, a hydrocarbon of the family of butane), while the rest of the gas (0.6 liters) is expelled with excrement.

The intense odor comes from traces of other constituents produced by the breakdown of proteins in the colon:
  • Butyric acid (smell of rancid butter)
  • Sulfur compounds
  • Hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell)
  • Carbon disulfide
The flatus also contains aerosolized particles of excrement, although in minute quantities.

The odor of the flatus is dependent on foods that have been ingested. The eggs, meat, cabbage and cauliflower are rich in sulfur, which encourages the production of sulfur in the body, producing a flatus which smells similar to a rotten egg.

In general the presence of gas is more intense in older people, although it is true that there are several factors that facilitate flatulence at any age, among which are the type of food eaten, how it is consumed, and the existence of certain diseases.

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Disclaimer: The information and advice given on this website does not constitute medical advice. If you are feeling unwell, please contact your doctor or another health care professional.