If you have a painful, cramping, or bloated tummy it may be due to trapped wind - a common condition that’s caused by the build-up of gas in your digestive system.
There’s usually no need to worry about trapped wind, but it’s important to understand what may be causing it and how you could treat it.
If your symptoms persist, you should see a doctor.
Why do I have trapped wind?
Humans produce around 1.2 litres of gas every day. This is done by:
- swallowing air every time you drink, eat a mouthful of food, chew gum or talk
- digesting certain carbohydrates, such as beans, wholegrains or starchy carbohydrates, like cabbage
Causes of excess gas
The following habits can create excess gas in your digestive system:
- eating certain foods, like starchy carbohydrates
- eating or drinking too quickly
- talking while you eat
- drinking caffeine
- drinking fizzy drinks
This gas may be released as a burp, but the rest will pass through your digestive system before being released as wind (flatulence).
If gas gets trapped in your digestive system it can cause discomfort or pain in the tummy and make you feel bloated or swollen.
However, you can still feel bloated when you have a normal amount of gas in your system - some people may simply be more sensitive than others.
Quick ways to get rid of trapped wind
Massage your tummy
It can be difficult to ease the symptoms of trapped wind, but massaging your tummy may help. To do this, apply gentle but firm pressure to it and work your hand from right to left.
Some forms of exercise can help to keep your bowels moving - you could try yoga or go for a 20 to 30-minute walk.
Drink peppermint or chamomile tea
Some herbal teas, such as peppermint and chamomile, are thought to improve digestion and ease bloating. There isn’t much evidence to support these claims, but you could give it a try.
You can also visit a pharmacist to see what over the counter medications they recommend for your symptoms.
Prevent trapped wind in the long term
In the long term, you may be able to reduce or control how often you experience trapped wind by:
- eating slowly
- changing your diet
- giving up smoking (if you smoke)
- eating smaller meals more frequently
- sipping your drinks
- avoiding caffeine
- avoiding fizzy drinks
When should you worry about trapped wind?
Trapped wind is usually harmless, but it can be the symptom of a more serious medical problem.
If you have persistent trapped wind that doesn’t get better by making changes to your diet and lifestyle, visit a doctor.
You should also seek emergency medical attention if you experience severe or sudden abdominal pain.