What causes trapped wind and how do I get rid of it?

TRAPPED wind can cause quite a bit of discomfort and alarm, but it's a perfectly normal thing to experience.

Wind in your digestive system is common – bacteria generate wind when they break down food in your intestines.

What does trapped wind feel like?

Trapped wind feels different depending on where in your digestive system it is located.

You may feel bloated in your stomach, with a feeling of tightness or discomfort, or lower down in your abdomen.

If you have trapped wind you might feel full quickly when you are eating, or have rumbling or gurgling noises from the stomach.

Trapped wind can also be very painful, either in your stomach, chest or shoulder.

Sometimes the symtpoms of trapped wind can be mistaken for something else.

People worry they are having a heart attack, which includes symptoms of pain in the chest, jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulders, feeling weak, faint, short of breath.

Wind trapped lower down in the abdomen is often confused with gallstones or appendicitis, too.

In rare cases, people complaining of trapped wind may actually have a more serious problem. Persistent bloating, for example, is a key sign of ovarian cancer.

Some people are very sensitive to wind in their system even though there are normal amounts.

But others, such as IBS sufferers, experience more wind than most people.

You may be belching or farting a lot – people normally fart up to 15 times a day, and produce the gas equivalent to two glasses of cola. Any more excessive wind can be caused by certain medicines or illnesses.

Why do I get trapped wind?

Gases build up when you digest food.

But when you swallow food, water or saliva, you also swallow small amounts of air, which collects in the digestive system.

Excessive flatulence can be caused by swallowing more air than usual or eating food that's difficult to digest. 

This creates pressure in the abdomen area.

The body needs to get rid of the build-up by farting or burping.

Trapped wind happens to everyone now and again, commonly after an indulgent meal, for example.

However, for some people it may be the sign of an underlying health problem, like IBS, a food intolerance or acid reflux.

How do I get rid of trapped wind?

There are many home remedies for trapped wind, and steps you can take to avoid it or minimise it happening again.

The first thing to do is look at your diet and lifestyle and avoid foods that can cause excess wind:

  1. Don't have too many fizzy drinks – all that gas has got to escape somewhere.
  2. Chew with your mouth closed and don't chat while eating to avoid gulping down air.
  3. Cut down on foods that produce lots of gas in the digestive system such as beans, Brussels Sprouts and broccoli.
  4. Some people find it hard to break down fructose and dairy foods – these can cause wind in people with an intolerance.
  5. Watch your intake of fried food and artificial sweeteners as these can cause a lot of wind in the digestive system.

Remedies for trapped wind include:

  1. Taking ginger or peppermint to relax the muscles in your gut helps you to pass wind. Fennel and apple cider vinegar also help.
  2. Drinking warm water or herbal tea such as peppermint, ginger, or chamomile.
  3. Drinking half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in water.
  4. Gentle exercise helps stimulate your body to move wind through your system.
  5. Trying some yoga poses while paying attention to how you breathe.
  6. Some people find lying on a particular side helps to release trapped wind.
  7. Lying on your back and cycling your legs in the air gets wind moving.

If this doesn't help, there are a number of over-the-counter remedies such as Rennie and Wind-eze which can relieve trapped wind.

Gentle exercise helps stimulate your body to move wind through your system.

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