How Can I Silence My Gas :( ?
September 3, 2012 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 21 years old girly-girl going into my junior year of college. I had a 'simple' surgery in November go horribly awry, leaving me on bed-rest for weeks, and initially fully fecally incontinent. I had to leave the semester early to recuperate, and took the spring semester off, and haven't interacted with my peers since I left. I am supposed to start school again on Tuesday. I'm largely better, and certainly out of diapers. Unfortunately though, gas still passes through me totally freely, and I'm absolutely petrified at the thought of being flatulent in quiet classrooms and lectures, etc. The noise is my only concern. Does anyone have any suggestions for ways I can silence my gas?

I know that it's a shallow concern, but I have really never been able to come to terms with my digestive system the way that other kids I know have. I've always prided myself on being poised and collected, and very in-control. It's not a dietary issue - I don't think I'm any more flatulent than anyone else - I just don't have the sphincteral control. I go to a prestigious liberal arts college, and my classes generally have no more than a dozen students in them, often half that, so there's no safety in numbers. I'd really appreciate help! I could not be more anxious.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have to tried anti-gas medications like Simethicone (brand name Phazyme)? They've helped me.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:24 AM on September 3, 2012

I've heard that fart-deodorizing pads can muffle the sound, have you tried those? Also, you know how you can take a rubber balloon and make fart noises with it by pinching only part of the neck closed, but if you don't pinch it closed at all, there's just a little hissing? If you can discreetly spread your buttcheeks before you fart it will just hiss.
posted by purplecrackers at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Maybe experiment a little with foods? There will always be some that are a little more gassy than others. Some people have trouble with legumes; lettuce; bread and other pastries; dairy... I understand that your diet is fine, but maybe it can be taken from "fine" to "~30% less gas overall" if you experiment with eliminating typical problem categories.

Good luck, this must have been horribly hard. Hope everyone is telling you how proud they are of you for getting through it and coming back to school.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:47 AM on September 3, 2012

Agreeing with fingersandtoes that diet can make a big difference. Legumes are big, big trouble for me. Black beans are the worst. Cheese and grains, like bread and pasta, are bad, too. And these are all my favorite foods. :(
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

While I have no advice for the physical problem, any good institution should have accommodation possibilities for someone suffering from a disability. If the problem is not controllable and you are terrified of being in class, it might be possible to have all the lectures recorded and provided to you.
posted by modernnomad at 11:16 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try activated charcol tablets.
posted by windykites at 11:17 AM on September 3, 2012

I don't know how it works, but thong underwear is a miracle gas silencer.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

Good answers above, but you might also find some good tips on sites/forums for people with Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, IBD and even IBS.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Here's what works for me.

Lean to one side so most of your weight is on one buttock. Reach down and pull the "up" buttock outward. This pulls the buttocks apart and also stretches your anus so that it's less likely to vibrate as the gas goes through. Relaxation (not trying to hold it in) also helps.
posted by KRS at 11:45 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

It might help to take the time to pass gas as much as possible before you go into a lecture to minimize the possibility that you'll pass gas during class. I'm very gassy as a side effect of IBD and the medications I take to control my IBD, so I find the following postures help to pass gas:

- Stand up tall, then hinge at the waist and grab your ankles. This one takes some flexibility/practice, but is the best for doing in public bathrooms.

- On a bed or clean flat surface: get on your hands and knees, or better yet, balance on your knees and shoulders. Basically you want your butt up in the air and your torso at as steep an angle as possible. And finally,

- Pavana mukta asana, aka wind release pose. Lay flat on your back and draw your bent left leg up to your chest. Repeat on the other side.

I work through all three of these a few times a day to relieve gassy discomfort. Good luck to you and please feel free to memail me.
posted by telegraph at 12:33 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you taken any pro-biotic supplements since your surgery? Reestablishing the good bacteria in the gut helps with overall digestion and gas production. A good health food store will have good quality options. I find the refrigerated ones seem to work better.

Best of luck and glad you can resume school!
posted by cat_link at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2012

I really sympathize. I had a surgery last year that required me to go to class with a catheter, and it was fairly mortifying to me for awhile.

I was going to chime in to say that there's some good advice above, but also that it's not always obvious where these sounds are coming from, and that people in college are generally old enough, intelligent enough and mature enough to realize that if it happens once it's an accident, and if it happens more than that there may be some kind of medical issue. I'm sure there are jackasses everywhere but from an objective point-of-view I would expect people to be understanding and certainly not to bring it up with anyone else.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:31 PM on September 3, 2012

Anecdatally, but if nothing else works well enough for you... I have not been farty or bloated once since starting a keto diet two months ago.
posted by notquitemaryann at 2:06 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask your school student services to talk to a disability advisor. They're of varying quality, but a good one will be able to make sure everything practical that can be done to make your life easier is done.
posted by cromagnon at 2:19 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would just own it- I would let the professor know my issue and ask if I could address the class on the first day and tell them basically what you told us- you have this issue, it's embarrassing but somewhat uncontrollable and you know that everyone are adults and can handle this. I also might check to see if there are any rehab options for you.
posted by momochan at 2:23 PM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

You don't have to own or deny anything to your classmates. You should certainly look into all the suggestions above. If you can excuse yourself often during the class, and it will help you feel better, then talk to your professor before class. The profs are usually very understanding and will do anything that makes your life easier. In the meantime, try to remember that embarrassing things happen and the best thing is that they happen to all of us, and its okay. There are always idiots around and how they react tells us more about them than anything else. Also, your question is not shallow, its a very natural and valid concern.
posted by xm at 5:55 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried eating smaller portions? I find myself more gassy when I eat more. Not sure why, maybe my digestive system gets overloaded and doesn't digest as efficiently.
posted by Dansaman at 7:04 PM on September 3, 2012

I second the thong underpants suggestion. It's weird, but it works.

And I also found that when I was avoiding sugar, fat and eating less carbs (i.e. mainly eating lean protein) for a few weeks for medical reasons I didn't fart AT ALL.
posted by lollusc at 8:10 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having worked in a gastro clinic, I'm vaguely aware of some sort of tampon shaped thing you can use in your butt (in essence butt plug) specifically for this purpose. It's an anti gas releasing device. I'm assuming you have to remove it at certain intervals to let out the gas, otherwise surely you would get quickly uncomfortable, but I believe you can use it for periods where you don't want to pass gas accidentally. A little gadget like that could make a world of difference? Good luck to you.
posted by bingoes at 8:12 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

+1 sympathy.

You are very brave going into this situation. I expect that, after the first week everything will be fine. Issues like this always get bigger as you get closer, but the anxiety beforehand tends to be worse than the reality.

It sounds like there's some good advice been given. I'd suggest getting some squeaky shoes / clothes / bag which will at least give you some cover! Also; try not to tense, that causes squeaks...
posted by BadMiker at 4:47 AM on September 4, 2012

So sorry this has happened. I feel for you.

I'd almost rather be the fart girl, than try to do the SBD thing.

I too would discuss with the professor and then just make a little announcement, "I'm so embarrassed to mention this, but occasionally, I have an issue with gas. So I want to apologize in advance and those of you seated behind me might want to move."

As you've come to realize we all have issues with bodily functions. Some people use crutches or wheelchairs, or have to run for the john at inopportune moments. It's a part of life. (the last one is part of MY life, so I super-understand where you're coming from.)

Here's a link to gas pads, or something.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:02 AM on September 4, 2012

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
I could have written this exact same question four months ago. I am also a young woman. During my last semester of college I had a back surgery go wrong that left me with bowel and bladder incontinence, and uncontrollable flatulence. No problem with odor, just noise. Among all my problems, this was the most mortifying. No amount of diet changes, charcoal tablets, or pre-game releases could guarantee that I wouldn't pass noisy gas at inopportune moments. I have been where you are now, and I know how anxious and stressed out you are feeling. Please don't think you are being shallow for wanting to correct a problem that has huge social ramifications. This is such a devastating and isolating thing to happen to a person.

Fortunately! I have found a solution. It's not particularly pleasant, but it works for me. You need to get a butt plug. It doesn't have to be large. A small one works fine for me, I wear it at work and haven't had a single escape yet (n=3 months). It's seriously changed my quality of life since the surgery. I hope you try it with the same success. Good luck!
posted by jessamyn at 5:59 PM on September 5, 2012

> You need to get a butt plug.

Alternatively, if odour is not a problem, try a flatus tube (aka rectal tube or colon tube). The tube allows continuous, steady, escape of intestinal gas preventing occasional forceful release and abdominal distention.

Get a short one (35cms), don't insert it too deeply, maybe 5 or 6 cms, tape comfortably to a buttock, and loop excess comfortably into your underwear.

Seek out a nurse practitioner for some education on use, odour control (if required), & tube maintenance. Good luck. It's all manageable.
posted by de at 1:32 AM on September 6, 2012

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