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Is Holding In Farts Bad For You?



Short answer

Holding in a fart occasionally is unlikely to cause immediate harm. However, routine suppression can lead to discomfort, bloating, and abdominal pain. While it's sometimes considered polite socially, if done habitually, it could theoretically increase the risk of conditions like diverticulitis. The body may release suppressed gas through other means such as breath or skin. It's healthy to pass gas in an appropriate setting and excessive suppression should be avoided.



Long answer

We've all been there - in a crowded elevator, during a silent moment in a meeting, or at an intimate dinner - when the urge to pass gas strikes. But is holding in that gas actually harmful to your health? What does the latest research and expert opinion say about this seldom-discussed issue? Let's dive into this topic to discover the good, the bad, and the potentially embarrassing.

The Physiology of Farts

Before understanding the impact of holding in flatulence, it's important to know what a fart is. Medically referred to as flatus, farts are a combination of air swallowed while eating and drinking and gas produced by the bacteria in the gut as they break down food. Typically, passing this gas is a normal, healthy bodily function.

Short-Term Consequences

Firstly, most experts agree that occasionally holding in a fart is unlikely to cause immediate harm. However, routinely suppressing gas can lead to discomfort and bloating. It can also cause increased intestinal pressure, which can manifest as abdominal pain. While these symptoms are generally mild and temporary, they are definitely unpleasant.

The Psychological Impact

Consider the psychological effects. Holding in a fart can be socially awkward, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety about when and where you might finally be able to release the gas. Chronic suppression isn't just a physical issue; it can also influence mental well-being, leading to heightened self-consciousness or social anxiety.

The Risk of Diverticulitis

On a more severe note, habitually holding in gas over the long term has been speculated by some gastroenterologists to potentially increase the risk of developing conditions such as diverticulitis. This painful condition involves inflammation of pouches that can form in the lining of the intestine, although, it should be noted, this is a subject of debate and not conclusively proven by direct research.

Can Farts Escape Anyway?

Interestingly, the body has its own mechanisms for releasing gas, whether we like it or not. If you hold in a fart, the gas can get reabsorbed and eventually released through the breath or skin. While this may sound alarming, it's a relatively harmless process but does highlight that the body will find a way to expel excess gas one way or another.

Is It Ever Beneficial to Hold In Gas?

It's worth mentioning that from a social etiquette perspective, sparing others from the potential embarrassment or discomfort associated with farts can be seen as considerate. Holding in flatulence until a more appropriate time or location is a social skill most of us learn early in life. However, from a health perspective, there is little to gain from continually suppressing the passage of gas.

Conclusion: Listen to Your Body

Ultimately, while holding in a fart now and then isn't detrimental, consistently doing so can lead to discomfort and possibly contribute to more severe issues. Listening to your body and allowing yourself the freedom to pass gas in a safe and appropriate environment is generally the best path to maintaining both physical and mental health. After all, passing gas is a natural, healthy function - it's nothing to be ashamed of, and in many cases, it's far better than the alternative of holding it in.

If you frequently find yourself in situations where you're suppressing farts to an uncomfortable degree, consider evaluating your diet, as certain foods increase gaseous production. Consulting with a nutritionist or gastroenterologist can also help address any concerns you may have about flatulence and your digestive health. Remember, your comfort and health should always take precedence, even in the face of social norms.

Frequently asked questions

Certain foods can increase gas production due to high amounts of fiber, complex sugars, and certain starches that are more challenging for the gut to digest. To minimize flatulence, try avoiding common culprits like beans, onions, broccoli, cabbage, and dairy for those who are lactose intolerant. Instead, focus on easily digestible foods and eat smaller, more frequent meals. Probiotics may also help balance gut bacteria and reduce gas. Always consult a professional before making significant dietary changes.

Regularly holding in gas can potentially increase the risk of digestive issues like bloating and abdominal pain due to increased intestinal pressure. However, there is no direct evidence that suggests infrequent suppression of flatulence causes any long-term damage to the colon. Chronic suppression, on the other hand, may be linked to rarer digestive conditions like diverticulitis, but more research is needed to confirm this.

The psychological stress from holding in gas can be managed through a few strategies. Firstly, normalize the fact that everyone passes gas, and it's a natural bodily function. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing to reduce anxiety. Additionally, planning ahead by knowing where restrooms are located in public or social venues can ease your mind. If it's a significant concern affecting your quality of life, consider speaking with a therapist to develop coping mechanisms.

Certainly! When you need to pass gas but are in a social setting, you can excuse yourself and go to a restroom or another private space. If that's not possible, shifting your position or walking can help quietly disperse the gas. Controlled breathing techniques may also help you hold it in a little longer until you find a suitable time and place to release it.

Ask a question about Holding In Farts and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • discomfort
  • bloating
  • increased intestinal pressure
  • abdominal pain

Possible long-term side effects

  • potential increased risk of diverticulitis


  • considerate social etiquette

Healthier alternatives

  • diet modification
  • consultation with nutritionist or gastroenterologist

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 11-24-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 11-24-2023

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