Watery flatulence, or wet farts, refers to when liquid passes out the rectum, alongside air during a fart. Typically, this liquid is either mucus or watery stool.
Also known as wet farts or sharting, watery flatulence may occur as a result of consuming certain foods or beverages that may not agree with a person’s digestive system. In other cases, wet farts may occur due to underlying health conditions, such as digestive problems. For example, wet farts may be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Read on to learn more about the different causes of watery flatulence and how to prevent it.
The causes of these gases include the air a person swallows while eating and from the process of digesting food. It is a normal part of how the body works and often not a health concern. Most people may fart from 5–15 times a day, while others may pass gas up to 25 times a day.
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. These can include:
Some medicines may cause watery flatulence and loose stools. Medications that may increase flatulence and could lead to wet farts include:
- certain antibiotics
- some laxatives
- antifungal medicines
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- chemotherapy drugs for cancer
- metformin for diabetes
- 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.
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.
Irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects the digestive system. IBS may cause flatulence and whitish mucus to pass out of the rectum.
Other IBS symptoms
- abdominal pain and cramps
- changes in bowel movements, which may include diarrhea or constipation
- the feeling that a bowel movement is not complete
Read on to lear more about managing IBS.
Other conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system may also cause watery flatulence. These conditions may include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Although a rarer symptom, colorectal cancer 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.
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, known as neurogenic bowel dysfunction, may reduce feeling and control over bowel movements.
Read on to learn more about the nerves that control bladder and bowel function.
Some infections, such as gastroenteritis, 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 caregiver can make a note of any related symptoms and contact 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. 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 infant 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 three 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.
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
Read on to learn more about lactose and breast milk.
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 sweets with artificial sweeteners
- 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
Read on to learn more about foods high in fiber.
If wet farts are happening regularly with no known reason, it is advisable to contact a 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 and 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 contact a doctor immediately 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 can occur 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 contact their doctor. Watery flatulence could indicate a digestive disorder or underlying health condition.