Here’s what happens when you hold a fart in (and it’s not pretty)

Rob Waugh
Just let it go (Picture Fatherly)

Most of us have fought a desperate struggle to stop ourselves emitting wind at one time or another – whether it’s in an important meeting or just in a lift.

But what actually happens when you try to ‘hold in’ a fart?

There’s actually a genuine danger that it can come out via your mouth, as farts can get reabsorbed, says fart expert Clare Collins of the University of Newcastle.

Collins says, ‘Trying to hold it in leads to a build up of pressure and major discomfort. A build up of intestinal gas can trigger abdominal distension, with some gas reabsorbed into the circulation and exhaled in your breath.


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So if you’re an inveterate fart holder-inner, you’ve almost certainly had fart gas come out of your mouth, in other words.

Collins also warns, ‘Holding on too long means the build up of intestinal gas will eventually escape via an uncontrollable fart.’

Holding in a fart could also result in more serious problems, Collins warns.

Collins says, ‘The research is not clear on whether the rise in pressure in your rectum increases your chance of developing a condition called diverticulitis, where small pouches develop in the gut lining and become inflamed – or whether it doesn’t matter at all.’