Everybody’s been there at some point. You’re in a situation when decorum is paramount — a meeting, fancy date, crowded bus, church service — when you start to feel a bit of pressure in your lower intestine. It’s building … and building … and it’s gradually becoming an emergency situation. But you gather all of your fortitude and hold it in until, finally, mercifully, the pressure subsides. But did you ever wonder where that gas went?
Here’s what happens when you hold in a fart — and why you shouldn’t do it too much:
The gas that comprises your farts is as subject to the same laws of thermodynamics as anything else — like all matter and energy, it can’t be created or destroyed. It’s got to go somewhere.
Hold it in too long, and you could end up with some uncomfortable abdominal distension, which might contribute to a painful condition known as diverticulitis. The condition occurs when small bubbles or pouches form along the intestinal wall and become inflamed. It’s certainly not something you want to experience firsthand. Diverticulitis is kind of a far stretch, but still.
As for what’s next, well, you’re probably not going to like it. It has to do with methane. Methane gets a pretty bad for its role in our “plumbing”, it’s actually not the most prominent gas your personal exhaust vent lets loose. In fact, many people don’t produce methane at all. But among the 30 to 60 percent of people that do, it provides a powerful tool for tracking the path of errant farts. Since methane production is more of a side effect of digestion than anything else, it can really only come from one place in the body. And as it turns out, if you produce methane and you hold in your farts, you’ll just end up breathing it out your mouth and nose instead. That’s right — you can’t hold it down.
So you’re probably wondering, “if methane is not the culprit, who is?”. Turns out, it’s sulfur-containing gases like hydrogen sulfide that shoulder the blame for the smelliest poots.
In summary, if there’s a rumble in your stomach, and the pressure starts building up, be like Nike; “Just do it” — but find a secluded place first.
Glad I could give you a fart lecture to start your new week with.