JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s no secret that everyone farts. And even though it’s completely normal, we often find ourselves holding in gas when simply letting it go would be too inconvenient or humiliating. Just imagine you’re stuck in a crowded elevator with your boss and you start to get the picture.
But what happens when all that gas builds up with nowhere to go? The short answer is nothing good. And, according to one researcher, it could have unintended consequences. In some cases, that gas could escape with an accidental rip. Or, and we’re not joking here, it could be exhaled in your breath.
So how is that possible? Well, stifling a fart causes gas to collect in your gut, according to Clare Collins, a professor of nutrition and dietetics for the University of Newcastle in Australia. With no way out, she said, gas can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream and potentially “exhaled through the lungs.”
“Trying to hold it in leads to a build-up of pressure and major discomfort,” Collins wrote in an essay published by The Conversation. “A build-up of intestinal gas can trigger abdominal distention, with some gas reabsorbed into the circulation and exhaled in your breath. Holding on too long means the build-up of intestinal gas will eventually escape via an uncontrollable fart.”
The jury is still out on whether holding it in too long can result in health conditions, such as diverticulitis – which, according to the Mayo Clinic, happens when pouches form in your intestinal lining and become infected or inflamed. But, as Collins noted, the healthiest choice is clear.
“The next time you feel a large volume of intestinal gas getting ready to do what it does, try to move to a more convenient location,” she said. “Whether you make it there or not, the best thing for your digestive health is to just let it go.”