What is trapped wind?
Trapped wind is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort in the stomach and abdomen. It's usually caused by a build-up of gas in the digestive system, putting pressure on the stomach area which can lead to discomfort. It’s perfectly normal to produce this gas.
What are some trapped wind symptoms?
Trapped wind symptoms normally appear quite suddenly, typically with uncomfortable sharp, stabbing pains.
Some of the most common symptoms of trapped wind are as follows:
- A bloated stomach or abdomen that comes and goes.
- Pain or cramps in the stomach or abdomen that can move upwards as far as the shoulder.
- A strong urgency to burp or pass wind.
- Loud gurgling noises and/or sensations coming from your stomach.
- An uncomfortable feeling of fullness that occurs within a couple hours of eating.
Causes of trapped wind
Gas is created during digestion. When we eat certain foods, the sugars, and other carbohydrates in them aren’t broken down by the stomach or the small intestine. By the time they reach the large intestine, they’re still undigested.
Our large intestine is home to millions of friendly bacteria, who thankfully relish the task of breaking down these sugars, starches, and fibres. The problem is, by doing so, they create a lot of gas. If we can’t release this gas through burping or passing wind, it remains trapped in the abdomen, causing pain and bloating.
Trapped wind can also be caused by indigestion. Some people’s digestive systems may be slower at processing and clearing gas than others, which could be because they lack the enzymes needed to break down certain food components. It may also be related to digestion in the form of:
- Eating too much or too quickly.
- Taking in too much air when you eat.
- Chewing gum.
- Increasing your fibre intake too quickly.
- Certain food intolerances.
Keep reading below for tips which will address the above causes of trapped wind.
How to relieve trapped wind
If you suffer from trapped wind pain, you could try some of our tips to manage the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.
1. Review your diet to alleviate painful trapped wind
Your diet plays a key role in trapped wind in the stomach. Try to identify triggering foods, such as those containing indigestible sugars or artificial sweeteners, as these can often lead to bloating or flatulence. Your body may also produce more gas if you are lactose or gluten intolerant. Bloating and flatulence are common symptoms of these conditions and are surprisingly common. Consider getting tested by your GP if you think you may have gluten or lactose intolerance before making any significant adjustments to your diet.
Besides that, incorporating prebiotics in your diet could help manage flatulence and other gastrointestinal symptoms. There is a wide variety of food containing small quantities of prebiotics, such as garlic, leeks, bananas, oats etc that can be added to your everyday meals. You could also try prebiotic supplements to offer extra support for your gut microbiome. Bimuno, an award-winning prebiotic supplement contains an indigestible fibre called galactooligosaccharide (GOS), which is targeted to specifically feed Bifidobacteria, a type of good gut bacteria, and support gut health.
Bimuno® Original is a prebiotic supplement which is proven to work in 7 days*.
2. Physical activity helps when you have trapped wind in the stomach
Physical activity stimulates the digestive muscles. It's the action of peristalsis (the contractions of the intestines that help with gas release. You might not feel like jumping around after a meal but taking a walk soon after eating can really help with stimulating the digestive muscles and alleviating trapped wind pain.
3. Stress relieving activities to help reduce trapped wind
Stress can lead to gastrointestinal distress as the fight or flight response takes energy away from digestion. The central nervous system will slow down digestion and minimise gastric secretions which are vital for the digestive process. Yoga and breathing exercises are great activities to help calm your nerves and can be especially useful before bedtime or when trying to wind down.
4. Try herbal teas can help with trapped wind
Herbal teas like ginger, fennel, chamomile, or peppermint tea can support your digestion and in turn, help to reduce the symptoms of trapped wind. For the best results, try a cup of herbal tea once in the evening as digestion continues even as we sleep. Chamomile tea is a common tea that many people drink before bedtime. It can also have a soothing effect on the digestive system and may help reduce the discomfort associated with trapped wind.
5. Increase your fibre intake to help reduce trapped wind
Working towards a healthy gut can help to keep trapped wind and bloating to a minimum. Eating enough fibre helps to feed the good bacteria that live in the gut. These bacteria help to break down our food and turn it into useful nutrients. They also help the gut absorb these nutrients and pass them into the bloodstream where they can be used around the body. Fibre is key for bulking up our stools, which aids them in moving through the gut and preventing constipation. The more stagnant our digestion is, the more time food sits in the gut, fermenting and producing gas.
High fibre foods include beans, legumes, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bananas, and wholegrain cereals. Try to increase your intake of these foods and introduce them slowly, as eating too many of these foods when you are not used to them can cause flatulence and bloating!
GUT HEALTH TIP: Keep a food diary to keep track of any discomfort and consider eliminating or reducing the quantities of these foods in your diet if unwanted side effects occur.
It's also essential to increase your water/fluid intake when increasing fibre intake as this is what enables fibre to form into a gel-like substance to help with gastric motility and keep digestion moving.
6. Sip warm water slowly when you have trapped wind
Warm water can support the natural muscular contractions of the digestive system to keep food moving, preventing fermentation and the build-up of gas. The steadier and more regular the digestive system works, the less chance there is of wind becoming trapped.
In fact, we all produce gas and need to pass wind to release it on average around 15 to 20 times a day. Holding it in can lead to painful trapped wind and noticeable bloating.
Trapped wind isn’t dangerous, but the pain and bloating associated with trapped wind causes discomfort, and sometimes embarrassment. The key to easing the problem of trapped wind is to reduce the amount of gas produced by the gut.
7. Avoid or minimise triggering foods that are more likely to cause excess gas production, including:
- Dairy products such as cow’s milk, cheese, and yoghurts. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy that many people cannot break down, resulting in digestive problems. Consult your GP for official diagnosis.
- High fibre foods including beans and lentils.
- High fibre, cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
- Onions and garlic.
- Fruits containing high levels of fructose and/or sorbitol (fruit sugars), such as strawberries, pineapples, and bananas.
- Wheat, barley, and rye (but not other grains such as oats, buckwheat, and quinoa)
- High fat fried and spicy foods.
- Fizzy drinks and alcohol and carbonated beverages i.e. sparkling water.
Everyone is different. Some of us may find dairy products cause excess gas, whilst others find beans and broccoli are the culprits. The most effective way to help control trapped wind is by making changes to your diet. Often, this is trial and error, whilst you work out which foods cause you to have the most amount of gas.
Summary of how to manage trapped wind:
Managing trapped wind, also known as gas or flatulence, involves various lifestyle changes and home remedies. We hope you find our guidance to help reduce pain from trapped wind:
- Identify and minimise foods that are high in saturated fats or artificial sweeteners.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than large meals to ease digestion.
Know your body:
- Consult your GP to assess for underlying conditions, such as lactose intolerance or coeliac disease.
- Practice mindful eating by taking your time and chewing slowly.
- Engage in regular physical activity to promote digestive health and reduce the risk of constipation, which can contribute to trapped wind.
- Drink plenty of water to help with digestion and prevent constipation.
- Sipping warm water can help calm your gut and move food through the digestive system.
- Herbal teas may help support digestion and reduce the discomfort associated with trapped wind.
- Incorporating prebiotics into your diet can help feed your good gut bacteria.
- Prebiotic supplements, like Bimuno, can be added to your daily routine to help support your gut microbiome.
What to do if you have persistent flatulence and trapped wind
If you suffer from trapped wind and bloating, track your symptoms and be aware of any red flags like persistent bloating or discomfort.
If your discomfort is due to trapped wind, it can be helpful to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best solution whilst also trying some of these tips to see which ones offer some relief. Everyone is different, so it is essential to find the underlying cause of your trapped wind and what solutions work for you.
If your symptoms do persist, even after trying our tips, then make an appointment to see your doctor. They may be able to do some medical tests to see if your trapped wind is due to an underlying medical condition.