One could get away with letting it out, but having everyone point their finger at you is a different situation altogether. People tend to make jokes out of this smelly dilemma despite it being a normal occurrence involving the body. It's that bold rotten-egg stench that turns a smile into a frown and makes us cringe with so much annoyance.
Thing is, farting may be an embarrassing subject but it's not something to be ashamed of. Accept it or not, this is an essential state of being healthy.
According to Dr. Julius Co Soriano, gastroenterologist and fellow of the Philippine Digestive Endoscopy Society (PSDE), if you release gas an average of 14 to 20 times per day, it's an indication that you are in good shape.
Farting, also known medically as flatulence, is the act of expelling intestinal gas through the anus. The intestinal gases that are produced come either from swallowing of air and the production of gas from the food we eat. It may also come from the metabolism of bacteria of food products, and air that is brought by blood into the digestive tract.
A 1995 study conducted by Dr. Michael Levitt, a gastroenterologist from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis, revealed some mysteries about the unwanted intestinal distress, like 99 percent of farts being odorless. The remaining one percent comes from the edible material.
This happens when the rectal gas we release are only composed of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and methane. These are swallowed along with food, which are not properly or totally absorbed like the indigestible carbohydrates present in fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates in wheat, pasta, potatoes, and corn.
Dr. Jun Ruiz, a gastroenterologist from The Medical City, says fiber can also be a contributor for gas production.
Fermentable produce like legumes (beans), cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, celery, carrots, and raisins add to the normal amount of farting. And if you are the type of person who loves eggs and meat, which produces hydrogen sulfide, then expect your flatulence to be more putrid. This means that both vegetarians and protein lovers are guilty of fouling up the air.
In the same study, it was also confirmed that men pass gas more than women. "Men swallow more air because they eat faster," Dr. Soriano says, adding that men are less embarrassed about admission than women. What's more interesting, though, is the finding that women have stinkier fart than men due to heightened concentrated sulfur, which causes intestinal gas.
Surprisingly, the more it smells, the better it is for the body. According to a study published in Medicinal Chemistry Communications, hydrogen sulfide can benefit the cells and prevent future risks of stroke, arthritis, and heart disease.
While we know that letting one rip is fairly normal, releasing intestinal gas quite often may suggest otherwise.
Dr. Ruiz reveals that if you fart more than the average, this can be a sign of underlying health condition: "There are no health risks related to farting. However, if farting interferes with the person's daily life, or is accompanied by alarm symptoms, like rectal bleeding, pain, or weight loss, the person should seek consultation to rule out more serious causes."
This means that if we fart more than 20 times a day, something may be wrong—note the accompanying warning signs.
Dr. Soriano advises that one should see his gastroenterologist if farting comes with additional symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating, vomiting, muscle pain, bowel incontinence (no control on bowel movement), blood in the stool, and fever. He stresses, "These symptoms could be an indicator of a more severe disease which needs further investigation by a specialist."
Reducing instances of farting is still possible, especially in public places. He suggests eating and drinking slowly, taking in probiotics, and start exercising to lessen the frequency. Avoid chewing gum and smoking, which increases air intake.
But if you still can't resist passing gas, then go ahead and just laugh about it. In the end, no one is spared from this natural occurence. Dr. Soriano leaves us with this relevant and sensible advice: "When your loved one openly farts in your presence, say 'I love you.' Anyway, true love means not having to hold it in anymore."