Why Am I so Farty Right Now, and Dear God, How Do I Stop?

Photo: Getty Images/Luis Alvarez
My sincerest apologies if you, or a co-habitator that you're going to passive-aggressively forward this article to, have been dwelling in Fart City right now. It's definitely extra annoying to be cooped up in such a toxic environment, essential oils not really working their magic. Time to tackle the problem at its source: What are the most common causes of farts, and what makes this particular chapter in history quite literally reek?

"During quarantine our diets are very much disturbed, our mental health is not good, we are not exercising enough and our routines are disturbed," says Niket Sonpal, MD, an internist and gastroenterologist in New York. "All of these factors throw off the motility of our GI tract, and change the natural flora that live there. This can then lead to more flatulence. When the GI tract is not moving enough due to sedation or a poor diet, poop sits for longer and produces more gas."

Ugh, okay, well that's sickly comforting that this is at least a universal issue. And if you still curious about what else could be contributing to this noxious quandary, Dr. Sonpal wants you to consider a few factors that might cause farts.

A gastroenterologist explains the most common causes of farts

1. Your diet has changed

Getting all your usual vitamins and nutrients isn't a cinch right now, so empathy there. The thing is, though, consuming appropriate amount of fiber and healthy foods helps keep the digestive system working correctly.

"If you tend to pass gas more often than you would like, this could mean that the body is not receiving the correct nutrients," says Dr. Sonpal. "Avoiding foods that are processed and harder to digest and sticking to more natural ingredients, could decrease how often you toot."

2. You have A food intolerance

If you've had to give up your oat milk for regular 2-percent during these trying times, the results might be bubbling up inside of you.

"Not all food allergies can be life-threatening; however, they can still cause conflict day-to-day for some individuals," says Dr. Sonpal. "Food intolerances mainly affect the digestive system making it harder for the stomach to digest food properly. This can lead to smelly and awkward bloating, reflux, and diarrhea after a meal. For example, people with a dairy intolerance struggle to digest lactose, which results in the stomach becoming extraordinarily bloated and sends out foul smells out of the anus."

Maybe let's lay off the cereal for a bit.

3. You're stressed

This one is probably a given, we're all at our wits end at the moment. And the thing about this permanent fight-or-flight mental state is that it kind of literally makes you a windbag.

"Stress and anxiety can lead to excessive swallowing of air, oxygen release, and digestion issues," says Dr. Sonpal. "These are three causes of having more flatulence than usual. When people are panicking or stressed, they often swallow more air than necessary, leading to bloating and pressure that needs to be released. On the other spectrum, hyperventilating allows an excess of oxygen to enter the bloodstream, which can also lead to gas problems."

4. You're about to get your period

As if PMSing isn't enough.

"There are changes in your bowel habits during this time caused by fluctuations in hormones," says Dr. Sonpal. "The shift in your hormones and bowel movements cause farting to become more frequent and smellier during this time of the month. Be mindful about accidentally passing wind while you are pre-menstrual."

5. Something is up with your gut bacteria

"Regular farting is an indicator of healthy gut bacteria and a properly working digestive system," says Dr. Sonpal. "Your body needs good bacteria in your intestine for it to remain healthy. Microbes in your gut are a positive thing because they eat up excess fiber and carbohydrates we do not use. Also, they produce beneficial bacteria. If you do not have any good bacteria, it can lead to constipation and bloating, which is unhealthy for your digestive system."

6. there's Something more serious going on

"Constantly farting throughout the day could be a sign of a health issue such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, or, in extreme cases, colon cancer," says Dr. Sonpal. "Typically, these health issues cause extreme flatulence, odors or odd pressure on the rectum when they are about to be released." You should speak with your doctor if you're concerned, and the above doesn't seem to cover it.

So are you sick of suffocating your loved ones? Well, shifting a few things off your grocery list and getting your body moving will probably help you out.

"The first step is always to consider more fiber and foods with probiotics," says Dr. Sonpal. "This will help get the gut moving more bulk and with bulk out comes the gas. Go for a walk and this will contract your belly muscles and help push out gas and stool and keep you regular. Once you are regular, gas and bloating will subside."

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