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21st May, 20205 min read

Trapped wind: How to get rid of it

Medical reviewer:Dr Adiele Hoffman
Author:Alex Bussey
Last reviewed: 03/03/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

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.

You should also seek emergency medical attention if you experience severe or sudden abdominal pain.

Trapped wind symptoms

The 3 common gas-related symptoms are:

  • burping a lot
  • farting a lot
  • having a bloated tummy

If you have these symptoms regularly, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor, but it's not urgent.

However, there are other symptoms to be aware of, which may mean it’s something more serious, including:

  • losing weight without meaning to
  • blood in your poo or very dark black poo
  • chest pain
  • vomiting blood

If you feel bloating in your chest, especially if you also have chest pain, you should see a doctor right away, as this can be a sign of heart disease.

If you’re losing weight without meaning to, have blood in your poo, loose poos (diarrhoea) or tummy pain, you should talk to your doctor within a week or so.

If you are a woman and over 50, and have bloating often or it doesn’t go away, you should see a doctor within a week or so, as this can occasionally be a sign of ovarian cancer.

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
  • smoking
  • drinking caffeine
  • drinking fizzy drinks

Conditions like lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also create gas.

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

How to release trapped wind with yoga

Some yoga poses, such as the ‘child’s pose’ may help to release gas. Here’s how to try the ‘child’s pose’:

  1. Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart. Your big toes should touch and your bottom should rest on your heels.

  2. Breathe out and lean forward until your body is between your thighs. Bring your head down toward the floor.

  3. Place your arms out in front of you, shoulder-width apart, with your palms on the floor. If this is too hard, rest your arms next to your body, palms facing up.

  4. Stay in this pose for as long as you feel comfortable, up to 5 minutes, and breathe deeply.

  5. Lift up and come back to a kneeling position to finish.

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.

Exercise

Some forms of exercise can help to keep your bowels moving – you could try 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

Foods that cause trapped wind

Certain foods can cause you to fart more. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables can often cause gas which may make you fart more.

Foods that can increase gas production include:

  • carbohydrates that are hard to digest, such as beans and cabbage
  • milk and dairy products
  • fruit

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 or frequently recurring 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.

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