Trapped Wind - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Trapped Wind - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Having gas in your gut is normal, but sometimes it can come with uncomfortable symptoms like pain or excessive burping. Trapped wind can be caused by a whole range of factors, including eating too quickly, wearing tight clothing or even an underlying health condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance. 

There are plenty of ways to prevent and treat trapped wind, and it’s usually an occasional inconvenience that isn’t anything to worry about. If, however, trapped wind symptoms continue to affect your daily life despite having made the relevant lifestyle changes, you should pay a visit to your GP so they can investigate the problem further. 

Symptoms

Trapped wind can result in a range of different symptoms and can be mistaken with other digestive problems, but the most common signs include:

  • A bloated stomach or feeling of fullness
  • Burping or flatulence (passing gas)
  • Stomach cramps
  • A rumbling or gurgling sound
  • Nausea
  • Pain when bending or exercising

The symptoms of trapped wind can sometimes feel severe and cause serious concern. Gas in the stomach or left side of the colon can result in chest pain, and on rare occasions trapped wind pain can even be mistaken for a heart attack

Causes

Trapped gas is a common problem, usually caused by too much swallowed air. This can occur if you chew gum, smoke, drink fizzy drinks, eat or drink too fast or talk while you’re eating.

Wearing tight clothing around your waist (like a pair of high-waisted skinny jeans) can also result in trapped wind because your stomach can become constricted, making it harder for food and gas to pass through. 

Certain foods are also more likely to cause excess gas production, particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower, as well as beans, legumes and other foods high in soluble fibre.

Some people experience symptoms like bloating, stomach ache and excess flatulence due to a preexisting health condition. Underlying causes of trapped wind can include: 

Diagnosis

If you’re experiencing symptoms of trapped wind, lifestyle changes and dietary alterations may be able to provide relief. In this case, you likely won’t need to visit your GP for a diagnosis. 

If your trapped wind is severe enough to affect your daily life, your doctor may need to ask you some questions about your symptoms and conduct some tests to rule out any possible underlying conditions. 

These tests may include things like an endoscopy to examine the inside of the oesophagus and stomach or a hydrogen breath test to look for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or sugar intolerances. Your doctor may also suggest keeping a food diary to identify any dietary problems. 

When to see your GP

You should see your GP if you’ve been feeling bloated for 3 weeks or more, you feel bloated regularly (more than 12 times a month), you have a swelling or lump in your tummy, you are also experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, weight loss or blood in your stools, or if you find it difficult to move or do daily activities due to your trapped wind. 

When to call 999 or go to A&E

You must seek emergency medical attention if you have a stomach ache that came on very suddenly or is severe, it hurts when you touch your stomach, you’re vomiting blood or your vomit looks like ground coffee, your stools are bloody or black, you cannot pass urine, stools or gas, you cannot breathe, or if you have chest pain. 

Treatment 

Uncomfortable bouts of trapped wind can often be treated with home remedies. Here are helpful some tips on how to relieve trapped wind by yourself: 

  • Sip warm water or peppermint tea
  • Massage your lower abdomen 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Use a heating pad on your stomach
  • Try gentle yoga exercises 

If home remedies alone aren’t enough to relieve your trapped wind, you could try treatment options available from a pharmacy. One of the most effective medicines to treat trapped wind is simeticone (Wind-eze, Wind Setlers) which works by combining the tiny gas bubbles in your stomach into larger bubbles, making them easier to pass. 

There are also natural herbal remedies available, such as activated charcoal tablets or peppermint oil capsules. 

If none of these treatments help your trapped wind, you should consider visiting your GP so they can investigate the underlying cause of the problem and offer appropriate treatment options if necassary. 

Prevention

There are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to prevent trapped wind. If you deal with trapped wind often, you could try some of these preventative measures before turning to medicines for help: 

  • Exercise regularly 
  • Quit smoking
  • Chew with your mouth closed to avoid swallowing air
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals
  • Eliminate foods that tend to make you feel bloated
  • Increase your fibre intake
  • Decrease intake of alcohol and fizzy drinks
  • Try to eat slowly
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Don’t drink through straws
  • Try probiotics

It can take time and dedication to adopt healthy habits, but not only will a lot of these practices help to prevent uncomfortable trapped wind, they’ll benefit your overall health too. 

Faye Bonnell - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 23 January 2023
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