Man holding stomach uncomfortably due to trapped wind

Trapped Wind: Causes, Symptoms & Relief

What is trapped wind?
What does trapped wind feel like?
What causes trapped wind?

What is trapped wind?

Trapped wind is a very common condition causing pain or discomfort around the digestive system, usually due to a build up of pressure in your stomach or abdomen.

You can suffer from trapped wind in different parts of your digestive system, causing a range of symptoms including a bloated stomach, bloated abdomen, burping and flatulence.

Because we’re all very polite, flatulence is not often talked about, but everyone passes wind, on average 5-15 times a day.

Two glasses of fizzy cola drink

Passing wind is an entirely natural, but annoying and sometimes painful process, caused by bacteria in our gut. In a process of fermentation which releases gas and heat, colonic bacteria break down indigestible fibre and starches which haven’t been absorbed in the small intestine. This gas is usually made up of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane. Certain foods can lead to the production of gases containing Sulphur, too.  Most of this gas is absorbed into your blood stream, and the rest is released as flatulence.

What does trapped wind feel like?

Common symptoms of trapped wind are:

  • A bloated stomach or abdomen
  • Flatulence or burping
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after eating
  • Rumbling or gurgling noises in your stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Pain when you bend over, lie down or during exercise
  • Pain that moves around the body; behind the ribs or up the back or even in to the shoulder

On a bad day I struggle to do up the waistband on my clothes.

What causes trapped wind?

When we swallow air when we eat or drink, we release most of it as a burp.  Any remaining gas will go in to the large intestine or colon, where bacteria are already working on breaking down undigested food - a process which also produces gas. It all eventually comes out as flatulence.

Wind can be caused by eating too fast, which leads us to gulp down air, or by drinking fizzy drinks or eating when stressed. Wearing tight clothing around the waist can contribute to the problem, as can any change to your diet, for example going abroad.

Not everyone reacts in the same way to the foods or drinks they consume, but these are the most common culprits:

Colander full of brussel sprouts
  • high fibre foods

    such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, onions and brown rice, if you are not used to them
  • fizzy drinks

  • dairy foods

    if these bother you, you could be lactose intolerant, which is an inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk
  • fructose

    a sugar that passes undigested in to the colon and therefore needs a lot of breaking down (so try to go easy on the fruit juice)
  • high fat foods

  • carbohydrates

    some carbs cannot be digested in the small intestine because of a lack of the enzymes that help their digestion

Suffering from trapped wind? Read some treatment tips to help relieve the symptoms of trapped wind.