What to do when Life's a Gas
February 7, 2013 7:26 PM   Subscribe

You've got insane gas but you need to keep working. What do you do?

Let me set the scene.

You are at work and you have an important meeting in 10 minutes. Or you're at an Art Museum looking at a Monet, or at a Benefit and you have to give a speech, or about a teach a class, or at some event in which your attendance is required. You need to stay in the building and deal with your problem. Your problem is that your stomach is producing a crazy amount of gas. You're uncomfortable and afraid to move because you'll let out a loud stinky fart...or, a series of farts with each stiff step you take (you all know of the fart walk. Fart-fart-fart-fart-fart). Your assets are water in the bathroom, some basic first-aid-kit elements such as headache medicine, and maybe some stale donuts or steal-able food in the breakroom. You can step outside but there is no pharmacy nearby. You have a breakroom and/or a shared bathroom that you can duck into.


This has happened to everybody. Gas that bubbles up over and over again. You're afraid to fart while sitting down because you might go airborne off your chair. You don't want to crop dust around the museum because, well, that's just unpleasant. You don't want to fart loudly in front of your class and be known as the Fartsy Professor (no really, you don't). Mefites, I want to know what sort of folk remedies you have for this sort of situation. It has happened before and will happen again to the best of us.

With anonymous love, the Fartsy Professor
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
A magazine article many years ago suggested getting on your hands and knees in the bathroom or a private office, lowering your head/shoulders as close to the floor as possible, and rocking forward and backward. The angle is supposed to help the gas up and out the appropriate exit, and the rocking is supposed to help squish your belly to smoosh the gas along so it will come out. Obviously you're supposed to try to fart out as much of the gas as possible while in this private location. I've never actually tried it, but the image stuck with me. Hopefully you've got towels or something so you're not actually touching the floor.
posted by vytae at 7:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Again, this requires privacy, but laying on your back, slowly bringing one knee at a time to your chest, holding it there for a couple minutes, and switching legs can help get as much out as possible (this is a yoga thing called "Wind Pose" or something similar...what I do know is that if we do it in yoga class almost every time someone can't stand the pressure any longer). Alternating that with the "squish down on your tummy" while on all fours can release enough so that you can make it for at least an hour or two before it gets outta control again.
posted by zinful at 7:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my intestinal experience, eating a doughnut will make you need to dump immediately, and with that comes the much-needed blast.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:56 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Carbonated beverages make me burpy which is better than farting in my book, so I grab those when I need to release gas. But honestly I am super boring with my diet during the work day which prevents the gas in the first place.
posted by sweetkid at 7:58 PM on February 7, 2013

If this is a problem you have frequently, then you can get Gas-X and throw it in a tiny pill holder to keep in your blazer jacket.

If you are standing in the classroom and need to fart, pretend to take a really important phone call and apologize profusely after. Unless that would be worse for you than farting in front of the class. Your choice.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:01 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

First of all, take every preventive measure. If you chew gum, stop. (It makes your saliva bubbly, and then you swallow the bubbles, and, well, yeah. Stopping made a huge difference for me.) If you drink carbonated beverages, stop. If you're lactose intolerant, lay off the dairy. Beans for breakfast? No. And so on.

Thing two: Do little farts at every available opportunity throughout the day, to stave off The Big One.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:03 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Really depends on how much time you have. 45+ minutes? Drink a venti redeye with a fatty snack - it'll act like a depth charge and blast out any solids/liquids/gases. Between 10 - 30 minutes? Take a walk, then do a bunch of sit-ups. Under 10 minutes? you can, ummmmmmn, well, errrrrrr... if you're particularly comfortable with your body, you can, ummn... retreat to the bathroom and "manually vent" things. Oh god, I cannot believe I just typed that.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:14 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you have just a short time, you can go to the bathroom and fart without letting anything else out. It's totally possible.
posted by limeonaire at 8:23 PM on February 7, 2013

This is all about diet prevention. Eating foods that don't irritate the gut (basically, protein and veggies) for the day of said function is the best prevention. (Foods that cause gut irritation in varying amounts for different people: dairy, grain, beans, sugar and sugar substitutes.)
posted by DoubleLune at 8:33 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

And if you're already gassy, some activated charcoal tablets can help with the excess.
posted by tatiana131 at 8:35 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wind-relieving pose aka Pavanmuktasana. If there's no pharmacy and you can't get your hands on any Gelusil or something like that, wind-relieving pose.

*poot poot poot* *aaaahhhhh*
posted by Lexica at 8:42 PM on February 7, 2013

Gas-X Thin Strips are so, so great. I haven't seen them at the drug store as frequently recently, but I dearly hope they're not discontinuing them. I can keep something like 8 of them in my wallet, handy at any time, and they don't crumble.

Don't use antacid if you can at all help it. Antacid neutralizes acid into... gas.
posted by Madamina at 9:13 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is sort of like asking what to do if you are on a boat sinking in the middle of the ocean without a life jacket. Basically, you are SOL and in both cases the key is trying not to get into that situation. Since you are presumably not presently in the situation you describe, I would focus on how to avoid that kind of situation, for example not eating certain foods, not eating too much at any one time, making sure you don't procrastinate in going to the bathroom, etc. This is not a 100% solution but can definitely greatly reduce the incidence of said situations. BTW, do you perhaps have an unknown food sensitivity or intolerance such as lactose? That can cause extreme flatulence.
posted by Dansaman at 9:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do some sit-ups.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:34 PM on February 7, 2013

Drink coffee (decaf works too) 30-45 minutes prior to the event, then head to the bathroom. The stimulative effects will handle the gas, and the bathroom is a safe place break wind with wild abandon. No one but the passer is going to know the difference between actually crapping and just using the stall to pass gas, nor should anyone care what you do in there.
posted by PCup at 1:42 AM on February 8, 2013

With only 10 minutes to spare? I'd do my damnedest to try and evacuate everything I can in that time, as well as ceasing all eating or drinking. Don't eat or drink at the meeting, and just clamp down and ride it out. My experience is that if you try not to let any ammo into the chamber, it's much easier to hold on. Once you get a bubble in the ol' rectum, your instincts to evacuate start to take over and it gets much harder to stifle.

Leave something on a credenza in the back of the room, like a water bottle or box of tissue. If you HAVE to let one out, you can duck back there and cropdust whilst out of the way, under the guise of grabbing the forgotten bottle or dabbing at the nostrils.
posted by gjc at 4:45 AM on February 8, 2013

If you clench your buttcheeks just right, you can pretty much turn it into a long, drawn-out but silent toot. Takes a bit of practice but you'll get there. Can't do much about the smell though by the time you've mastered this technique, you'll have the right muscles to hold it in at which point it will occasionally grossly bubble back up into your stomach and come out as a burp.
posted by dubusadus at 7:06 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Go to the bathroom frequently; that's the appropriate place to let rip. If you have very sinky gas, it may be a sign of food intolerance, especially dairy. Lactaid pills can help, but I've found that removing dairy from my diet is best. Beans have proteins that can't be digested, so they cause irritation & gas, so eat judiciously. Beano does help. Another cause of gas is constipation. Increase the fiber in your diet with whole grains, fruit and veggies, and drink lots of water. A few apricots as a daily snack is easy and tasty. Activia yogurt probably does help, too. Exercise stimulates your gut, and any gas tends to move along, so talk a walk. Keeping things moving, eating fiber, fruits, veg, etc., are really important for your health. The threat of gas is a good way to stay motivated to get healthy.

You can also keep some activated charcoal underpants handy.
posted by Mom at 8:05 AM on February 8, 2013

I get bad gas around the time of my period, and I'm often doing presentations in front of a classroom, and I've learned two things: 1) to keep Gas-X strips in my wallet at all times and 2) how to deliberately pass gas silently for when I can't get to the Gas-X strips in time or I've forgotten to replace them. The 2nd requires a bit of practice and experience, but is totally possible. Just remember that the noise comes from air passing through tight spaces that touch each other (y'know, exactly like a whoopie cushion) and then get to know your body.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:17 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Burps are usually from swallowed air (carbonation, swallowed while chewing gum or even food, etc.), while farts come from gas produced by the bacteria in your intestines. So please do not worry about this one item: gas that was hanging out near poop and almost farted will never come back up as a burp through your mouth. Ick. There's just too much intestine between your rectum and your stomach to allow the gas to work backward that far. Holding in major farts might increase the pressure in your abdomen, which might make some bubbles in your stomach decide they need to come out as a burp. But it's definitely not the same bubbles that were hanging out at the tail end (so to speak) of your digestive tract.
posted by vytae at 7:21 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

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