Although we’d like to be mature adults about the topic of farting, no one likes to fart in front of other people. Unless you’re related to Shrek, it’s considered to be pretty rude. Social stigma aside, farting is a natural bodily function. The intestines have a valid reason for getting rid of gas, and stopping this natural process could cause health problems.
Why We Fart
Gas is a waste product of digestion. Gas has no nutritional value, so the intestines work to push it out. This gas comes out either as flatulence or belching.
Farts are made of a variety of gases, like sulfur or methane. In addition to not smelling very pleasant, these gases can be poisonous if they build up in large quantities in the body.
What Holding It In Does To Your Intestines
Think of your intestines as a wacky balloon animal that can go on for miles and miles if stretched out. When you put more air in a balloon animal, it expands. When you hold in a fart, your intestines expand. Thankfully, a healthy human doesn’t make enough gas to make their intestines pop.
Holding in farts can cause intestinal distension. This is a fancy word that means the intestines get stretched out. This doesn’t feel very comfortable and it causes the stomach to look big and bloated. Some doctors have hypothesized that that intestinal distension can cause diverticulitis (a chronic illness where seeds and other food particles get stuck in small pockets of the intestines and cause inflammation.) Right now this is just a suspicion, as the exact cause of diverticulitis has yet to be proven.
What If There’s More Gas?
The body has plenty of self-protection mechanisms, so under normal circumstances, your intestines are not going to pop because of gas. That being said, your intestines can produce more gas that can be held inside the intestines. When this happens, the gas either has to go up or out.
When gas is pushed up, it is forced out through the mouth as a burp. This can account for particularly smelly belching, and these types of belches can also be painful. Rather than a normal belch, the gas is forced up through the esophagus. This won’t necessarily cause injury, but it can be uncomfortable.
Gas In The Bloodstream
Gas that doesn’t go down or up goes out through the rest of the body. Gas from flatulence can be absorbed into the bloodstream just as nutrients from food are. When this happens, higher levels of methane and sulfur can be present in the blood. The levels aren’t high enough to be lethal, but this can get dangerous if it’s you’re absorbing this gas into your bloodstream on a daily basis.
While these flatulence-related health risks don’t necessarily make farting in public any less embarrassing, they certainly will help you make a good excuse if you’re bold enough to use it.