Watery flatulence is when liquid passes out alongside air when a person farts. This liquid could be mucus or watery stool. But what causes watery flatulence?
Also known as wet farts, watery flatulence may be due to what a person has eaten or drunk. An underlying health condition may also be the cause of wet farts, for example, a digestive disorder.
Read on to learn more about the different causes of watery flatulence and how to prevent it.
Flatulence, or farting, happens when gas from the intestines passes out through the rectum.
Farting is a daily and normal function of the body. It may happen if bacteria in the gut are not able to digest food properly before it reaches the colon.
Flatulence also happens when people swallow excess air. This can occur when someone chews gum, eats quickly, or drinks carbonated drinks.
Watery flatulence is when a fart feels wet because mucus or some watery stool passes out alongside gas. There are a number of causes of watery flatulence.
Wet farts may occur due to something a person has consumed. Other times, wet farts may be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
Read on to discover the various causes of watery flatulence.
Some medicines may cause watery flatulence and loose stools. Medications that may increase flatulence and could lead to wet farts include:
- certain antibiotics
- cholestyramine (for high cholesterol)
- orlistat (Xenical)
- medicines that contain sorbitol
As well as being an ingredient in some drugs, manufacturers also use sorbitol to sweeten sugar-free sweets. Sorbitol may increase flatulence.
If a person has a lactose intolerance, eating dairy products may cause them to have watery flatulence.
Lactase is the enzyme in the body that breaks down the lactose found in dairy products. People who are lactose intolerant do not produce enough lactase to digest lactose properly.
Eating dairy products may cause a person with a lactose intolerance to have digestive issues and flatulence.
People who have celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten may experience stomach discomfort after eating gluten. This may lead to watery flatulence.
Other symptoms a person with a gluten intolerance may notice after eating gluten include:
- diarrhea or constipation
- numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, or fingers
- itchy skin rash
- joint pain
Irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects the digestive system. IBS may cause flatulence and mucus to pass out of the rectum.
Other IBS symptoms include:
- stomach pain and cramps
- aching back
- lack of control over bowel movements
- urgent or frequent need to urinate
- diarrhea or constipation
Other conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system may also cause watery flatulence. These conditions include inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn's disease.
Although rare, cancer of the rectum is another possible cause of watery flatulence.
Pelvic surgery or treatment
Pelvic surgery or treatment may lead to watery flatulence or accidental leakage from the bowels. This normally only affects a person while they are recovering from their treatment.
Radiation therapy around the pelvic area is one form of treatment that may cause this symptom.
Conditions that affect nerve function
Certain health conditions that interfere with nerve function around the rectum may lead to watery flatulence. Impaired nerve function in this area of the body may reduce feeling and control over bowel movements.
Conditions that may affect nerve function around the rectum include:
Some infections can cause people to have loose stools or diarrhea. If someone has gas while they have diarrhea, it may come out as a watery fart.
Wet farts may be a sign that a toddler or child is experiencing one of the health conditions this article explores above. A parent or carer can make a note of any related symptoms and speak to a doctor about the possible cause.
Watery stools and wet farts are normal for newborn babies. This is because they are not yet eating solids and their digestive system is still developing.
It is difficult for a newborn baby's digestive system to break down:
For this reason, when a newborn baby feeds, they may pass a lot of gas and mucus.
If a baby is on breastfed milk, their stools will be loose and runny. If a baby is on formula milk, their stools will be thicker with a consistency similar to peanut butter.
If a baby has wet farts alongside other symptoms, they may have diarrhea. Symptoms of diarrhea include:
- mucus in stool
- blood in stool
- bad or unusual smell
- sudden increase in stools
- stools become looser than usual for two or more stools
Wet farts or stools may be a sign of a lactose overload. Lactose overload may happen when an infant has long or over frequent feeds that cause too much lactose in the digestive system.
Babies who are 3 months or younger are most likely to experience lactose overload. However, lactose overload may affect babies up to 5–6 months old.
Symptoms of lactose overload include:
- frothy, sloppy, or explosive stools
- foul smell to stools
- excessive and foul smelling farts
- baby seems to be continuously hungry
- large weight gain or bloating
How to prevent watery flatulence
People may be able to prevent wet farts by supporting their digestive system in the following ways:
- avoiding lactose and gluten to see if symptoms improve
- avoiding carbonated drinks
- chewing food thoroughly
- avoiding chewing gum
- eating slowly and mindfully
- avoiding foods high in fructose, such as figs, dates, or prunes
- avoiding sugar-free sweets
- avoiding greasy, fatty, or overly spicy foods, which can be harder to absorb
If people have loose stools alongside watery farts, increasing fiber intake slowly may help to better manage bowel movements. Experts recommend a daily fiber intake of 20–35 grams.
Increasing fiber consumption suddenly may cause bloating or stomach pain. People can gradually increase their fiber intake over several days by eating more:
- whole grains
If wet farts are happening regularly with no known reason, it is a good idea to see the doctor. The doctor can diagnose any underlying health condition that may be causing watery flatulence.
To reach a diagnosis, the doctor may carry out a physical examination and ask about:
- foods and drinks a person has recently consumed
- any history of digestive issues
The doctor may also carry out the following tests:
The doctor may ask a person to keep track of the food and drink they eat. This helps identify any link between certain foods and digestive issues.
The doctor may also ask a person to record the number of times they pass gas or experience a wet fart over the course of 3 days. This can help the doctor see if there is anything abnormal happening.
People should see a doctor straight away if they have wet farts alongside any of the following symptoms:
- blood in stools
- unexplained weight loss
- swelling or hard lump in the stomach
- feeling short of breath
- paler skin
Wet farts are normal in newborn babies as their digestive systems are still developing. In older children or adults, occasional wet farts can be a normal bodily function. Watery flatulence may be due to a stomach upset or something a person has eaten or drunk that day.
If a person experiences wet farts on a regular basis or has other symptoms alongside wet farts, they should see their doctor. Watery flatulence could indicate a digestive disorder or underlying health condition.