What causes trapped wind and how do I get rid of it?

EVERYONE gets trapped wind from time to time.

But for some, it can become a regular occurrence and plague their daily life.

So why does it occur, and how can you beat unpleasant flatulence?

What is trapped wind?

Trapped wind feels exactly like it sounds – it's gas that doesn't feel able to exit. This can be very painful.

But some gas will still pass, likely more than usual, so it can also be embarassing.

You may feel bloated in your stomach, with a feeling of tightness, discomfort or stabbing pain.

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If you have trapped wind you might feel full quickly when you are eating, or have rumbling or gurgling noises from the stomach.

Trapped wind can also affect the chest or shoulder.

What causes trapped wind?

Gases build up when you digest food. The bacteria in the colon produces gas as it breaks down food particles.

But when you swallow food, water or saliva, you also swallow small amounts of air, which collects in the digestive system.

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This creates pressure in the abdomen area – which the body needs to get rid of, by farting or burping.

Excessive flatulence can be caused by swallowing more air than usual – which thankfully, is easily fixable.

It may also help to cut back on food that is difficult to digest, if you're spending most of your time in discomfort.

The most common culprits are vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, fizzy drinks and beans.

People normally fart up to 15 times a day and produce the gas equivalent to two glasses of cola.

Some people are very sensitive to wind in their system even though it's usually a totally normal amount.

But it's worth knowing excessive wind can be caused by certain medicines or illnesses.

IBS sufferers, for example, experience more wind than most people.

Other underlying health conditions the cause "trapped wind" include acid reflux, lactose or gluten intolerance, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

In rare cases, trapped wind may come with other symptoms that signify a deadly condition.

Persistent bloating, for example, is a key sign of ovarian cancer, and watch out for a change in your toilet habits, which can be an early warning of bowel cancer.

Sometimes the symptoms of trapped wind can be mistaken for something else.

People can worry they are having a heart attack – which includes symptoms of pain in the chest, jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulders, feeling weak, faint, short of breath.

And wind trapped lower down in the abdomen is often confused with gallstones or appendicitis, too.

How do I get rid of trapped wind?

There are many home remedies for trapped wind, and steps you can take to avoid it or minimise it happening again.

The first thing to do is look at your diet and lifestyle and avoid foods that can cause excess wind:

  1. Don't have too many fizzy drinks – all that gas has got to escape somewhere.
  2. Chew with your mouth closed and don't chat while eating to avoid gulping down air.
  3. Cut down on foods that produce lots of gas in the digestive system such as beans, Brussels Sprouts and broccoli.
  4. Some people find it hard to break down fructose and dairy foods – these can cause wind in people with an intolerance.
  5. Watch your intake of fried food and artificial sweeteners as these can cause a lot of wind in the digestive system.

Remedies for trapped wind include:

  1. Taking ginger or peppermint to relax the muscles in your gut helps you to pass wind. Fennel and apple cider vinegar also help.
  2. Drinking warm water or herbal tea such as peppermint, ginger, or chamomile.
  3. Drinking half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in water.
  4. Gentle exercise helps stimulate your body to move wind through your system.
  5. Trying some yoga poses while paying attention to how you breathe.
  6. Some people find lying on a particular side helps to release trapped wind.
  7. Lying on your back and cycling your legs in the air gets wind moving.

If this doesn't help, there are a number of over-the-counter remedies such as Rennie and Wind-eze which can relieve trapped wind.

Gentle exercise helps stimulate your body to move wind through your system.

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