Flatulence: Silent nights have me worried

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Before my wedding I trained myself not to break wind in bed. Over the past 40-odd years of silent nights, where has all that gas gone? Was it absorbed by my gut? Did it do me any harm?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

This is one of the most intriguing questions I have ever been asked. As far as I can determine, there is virtually no medical literature on the subject. In 1991, physiologists in Sheffield conducted a study in which they measured the amount of wind passed by 10 healthy volunteers, who ate their normal diets plus 200g of baked beans a day. The amount of wind passed over 24 hours varied enormously. The smallest amount was 476ml and the largest amount was 1476ml. The hourly wind production during sleep was about half as much as during the day. When wind begins to accumulate in the rectum, the natural urge is to release it. If this urge is resisted, the wind either leaks out slowly, or backtracks in the lower intestine. A small amount may be reabsorbed, but it mostly ends up being released, either consciously or unconsciously. I think it is very unlikely that your "silent nights" have been as silent as you think.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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