You’ve definitely held in a fart (or 500) in your lifetime. We all do it. But what are the health implications of refusing to pass gas? In a recent YouTube video, the creators of the channel What If delved into what actually happens if you hold in your farts. And, boy, is this knowledge we all need.
The average person farts 12 and 25 times a day, according to the video, expelling enough gas to fill a one to two liter soda bottle each day. This intestinal gas forms as part of the digestion process, commonly caused by the air you swallow by eating, drinking, and smoking. It can also be produced when bacteria break down food in your colon.
“Some food cause larger, smellier amounts of gas because they contain sulfur,” the video explains. “These foods include things like cauliflower, beans, and dairy.” And we definitely all know this to be true.
Now, intestinal gas can either be released as a burp or a fart. When you hold in a fart by tightening your anal sphincter muscles, the pressure builds on the gas in your digestive system. In the short term, this can cause immediate pain, bloating, and heartburn.
If you hold a fart in long enough, the gas can even be absorbed into your bloodstream, passed into your lungs, and eventually exhaled as a more socially-acceptable burp. But, as the video explains, that’s probably the best-case scenario.
Another possibility is that you could develop swollen and inflamed pouches that form along the intestinal wall in a condition known as diverticulitis. This unsavory condition can lead to diarrhea, fever, and bleeding from the rectum.
If something is blocking your colon and preventing you from expelling gas, however, your colon could start to expand—until it pops. Thankfully, this only happens with very ill patients. So don’t worry, you won’t pop like a balloon for holding in your farts. But just let it loose. It’s for your health.
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