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Flatus Interruptus, or Taming Flatulence

Updated on October 2, 2015

I like to party as much as the next guy. Unfortunately, the fun party snacks I consume can cause intestinal havoc the next day.

I suppose a party animal is fair game for a round of flatulence. But what if you live a virtuous life and eat healthy foods? You might still find your bloated self occupying the stall next to your fun-loving friend. That's not fair, but that's how it is.

It Blows

Flatus, to use a nice word, comes from the Latin “flare”, which means “to blow”. Hey, I'm not making this up. Said flare can be caused by dairy products, starchy foods, wheat and oat bran, artificial sweeteners, various fruits, fructose, beans, onions, green peppers, shallots, scallions and certain vegetables. On the plus side, notice that prime rib, bacon and ribs are not on the list.

Consumption of the aforementioned dietary staples can cause "abdominal pain, bloating, distention, belching, or passage of excessively voluminous or noxious flatus," according to the 18th edition of The Merck Manual, a medical reference. Flatus can also be caused by medications, health conditions and the swallowing of air when eating quickly or chewing gum.

You could at least say you're sorry.
You could at least say you're sorry. | Source

Let Me Count the Ways

Flatus can be objectionable in a couple of ways. One of those is auditory, although it's true that a sound that causes some to wince is a source of great hilarity to others, particularly those who attend grade school.

Your family doctor may seem to be a serious-minded person. But when the last patient has left for the day, your M.D. might chuckle when looking up “flatulence” in the Merck Manual. For a time, this dense tome included an elucidation of the four major methods of passing gas: (1) The “slider” (crowded elevator type) is released slowly and noiselessly, sometimes with devastating effect. (2) The open-sphincter, or "pooh" type, is said to be of higher temperature and is more aromatic. (3) The staccato or drumbeat type is pleasantly passed in privacy. (4) The "bark" type is characterized by a sharp exclamatory eruption that effectively interrupts (and often concludes) conversation.

This astute observation was excised from later versions of the venerable manual.

The 1 Percent

The part that causes noses to curl is but a tiny component of flatus. In a 1993 article called “Pardon My Emission” in Chile Pepper magazine, Dr. Richard L. Potts explained that flatus contains several odiferous substances accounting for perhaps 1 percent of intestinal gas. It's sort of like how an atom bomb works. A tiny core of plutonium creates the big bang, while the rest of the bomb just comes along for the ride.

Cause and Effect

Flatus is often caused by inability of enzymes in the small intestine to completely digest some foods. Carbohydrates pass through to the large intestine, where bacteria make short work of them, producing up to four liters of gas that can cause marked discomfort and some blockbuster emissions.

Curing the Bloat

If you're prone to gaseous eruptions, try eliminating various foods from your diet to determine which are the culprits. If that doesn't work, try an over-the-counter remedy. You can take something while eating to prevent flatulence, or if it's too late for that, there are several remedies on the market to reduce its effects.

Starting at the top, you can take Beano. Developed in 1991, Beano contains alpha galactosidase, an enzyme that breaks down complex sugars in gas-producing foods so that they're more completely digested. Beano was first sold as a liquid; the user added a few drops to food when served. Now they sell a revolutionary bean-shaped tablet along with Beano Meltaways that melt right on your tongue. Isn't science great? Beano has competitors these days, such as Bean-zyme and Vitacost Gas Enzyme Alpha-galactosidase. These products all contain 300 galactosidase units (GALU) per dose.

After you've knocked down a load of offensive food, you can use one of the many treatments containing simethicone. such as Alka-Seltzer Anti-Gas and Mylanta Gas. You can find these in the forms of tablets, chewable tablets, capsules and liquid. Simethicone works by reducing the surface tension of gas bubbles, which causes them to burst, freeing the pesky gas. I think you know what happens next.

You can also find multipurpose medicines such as Gas-X and Flatulex. Gas-X contains calcium carbonate as an antacid, along with simethicone to ease gas pressure. Flatulex has simethicone to relieve gas pressure and charcoal to remove some of the odors that travel with it.

The Future of Flatulence

Like cockroaches and the common cold, flatulence refuses to be tamed, despite mankind's numerous technological advances. I don't know about you, but I plan to change my ways and avoid this dreaded menace, at least until the next party starts.

Flatus in the Entertainment World

It takes guts—or perhaps just stupidity—to willingly take on the name Flatus.

A band by this name bubbled out of New Jersey some time ago, but appears to be inactive, judging by their Facebook and MySpace pages. Perhaps they stunk.

Then there was Cory Smoot, lead guitarist of GWAR, who performed under the name Flattus Maximus (or Flatus Maximus). Smoot passed away in November 2011.

Finally, there is the Flatus Show, which describes itself as “a weekly vaudeville style audio blog”. Mid-December 2011 saw the release of Flatus Show 305, whose topic was lemons and Lysol. I don't believe its creator is totally serious.

Technology triumphs.
Technology triumphs. | Source

Flatulence Humor

Flatulence has long been the subject of humor, appreciated both by children and those who should know better, such as this writer.

Wikipedia has entries on both the general subject of flatulence and humor, and subcategories such as the eternally popular whoopee cushion.

I recently read about Joe Therrien, an Occupy Wall Street protestor who was bitter because he couldn't find a good job with his master of fine arts degree in puppetry, for which he had rung up $35,000 in student loans. Now there's a real joke—and he's the butt.

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Body Odor is Nothing to Laugh About: Does everyone stand back a few steps when you approach? Hope is not lost. Take simple steps to eliminate body odor.


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    • giocatore profile image

      giocatore 6 years ago

      When I was young we called them "silent but deadly".

    • natures47friend profile image

      natures47friend 6 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

      Hilarious...sliders....funny...we just say 'silent and violent!'

      Its embarrassing when at the library, and you have to move away leaving a victim in it!

      Or , have you ever gone into a book shop or any shop and realised you were the 'victim' and had wandered into a stink cloud of unseen released gas?

      Loved this hub.....voted up, awesome, funny, and interesting. Merry Xmas....stay away from the garlic now!