Here's What Happens When You Hold In A Fart
Farts. Butt burps. Trouser Coughs. Whatever you call the act of breaking wind, we all do it -- whether we admit it or not. But what happens if we don’t?
Flatulence. It’s a cracking word, right? It’s derived from the Latin flatus -- which means “a blowing, a breaking wind” -- and is the proper medical term for a fart.
Butt … er, we mean but, what exactly is a fart?
“It’s the passage of gas that is produced within the colon and not reabsorbed into the body and therefore passed through the rectum,” Professor Terry Bolin, President of The Gut Foundation, told 10 daily.
The amount of gas that our rectum -- the final part of the large intestine that also deals with number twos -- actually releases varies enormously from about 10 to 100 millilitres per fart. Delightful!
“Some farts are small, some are large and noisy,” Professor Bolin said.
And yes -- everybody toots their own horn, so to speak. “People say that they never fart but they do -- they have to fart,” said Professor Bolin.
In fact, some of us release a rump ripper over a dozen times a day. How much you do fart, however, does depend on your gender, according to Professor Bolin.
“It varies between men and women,” he said. “A study that I did with [nutritionist Dr] Rosemary Stanton many years ago of about 60 people showed that women farted about seven times per day and men about 14.”
It’s not really known why gents let fly more than ladies although Professor Bolin does have his theories.
“I think it’s because men eat more and therefore generate more gas in the colon, whether there is an aspect of social awareness -- that men don’t care whether they fart and women do as they’re more socially conscious -- we don’t know,” he said.
What’s in a fart?
You might’ve noticed that some fluffs don’t smell while others can be TOXIC -- and not in a good, Britney Spears-type way.
It all depends on the type of bacteria in your colon. Smell-producing bacteria love munching on anything you eat that’s packed with sulphur -- preserved foods, soft drinks, onions, garlic, dried fruits -- and the by-product is ripe booty belches.
Baked bean lovers unite -- contrary to popular opinion beans don't, in fact, make us toot, something which Professor Bolin himself proved in a study.
On the less stinky side are carbohydrates, a certain portion of which are broken down into hydrogen and methane.
Methane has no aroma but is coincidentally very flammable -- that’s why miners used to wear methane-detecting canaries on their hats in days gone by. On a side note -- please don’t light your farts on fire. Just don’t do it.
In conclusion, sulphur leaves a stench, methane doesn’t.
So, what happens if we clench and hold in the wind? Do we explode a la Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
Er, not quite.
“It can cause discomfort, particularly in the lower abdomen,” Professor Bolin explained.
You could reabsorb a lot of those farts back into the colon. About 40 percent of farts are what Professor Bolin calls “without an aroma” which is a mature way of saying they don’t stink like actual a**. Reabsorbing those isn’t a major deal.
Reabsorbing an aromatic fart -- which DO smell like a** -- could mean you end up “expiring it on your breath.” Oh yes -- your butt burp can become an actual burp.
It changes your opinion on holding in a cheeky cheek squeak, doesn’t it? At the end of the day, you might not have much choice over when you toot.
“I think it’s very difficult to hold in your fart because there’s a natural progression of muscular activity in the colon that will tend to get rid of it without noise or without you knowing that much about it,” Professor Bolin told 10 daily.
“It’s very difficult for someone to say to you ‘don’t fart for two days’ -- I don’t believe you can do it.” Challenge accepted! Or, maybe not …
The bottom line
It sounds like we can’t outsmart our farts -- but if we have to let a few (or more) rip, can they at least tell us anything about our gut or overall health?
“Probably not,” said Professor Bolin, “Except in the case of ulcerative colitis [a type of inflammatory bowel disease] -- a flare-up will always be accompanied by an increase in smelly farts.”
So if you find yourself farting 25 times a day that’s not a sign that something’s wrong? (We’re asking for a friend, okay!)
“No -- it’s an indication that you’re eating a high fibre diet.”
Feature image: Getty.