Fart on the plane. Doctor’s orders.

The TSA won’t be catching this weapon of mass destruction.  A doctor is recommending that airline passengers fart mid-flight to avoid problems with gas. (Hey, it’s the weekend.  We’ll get back to the angry, scary, political stuff on Monday :)

Clearly this doctor won’t be flying, or perhaps he has problems smelling.

The good news is that there won’t be a risk of fire, since smoking is no longer allowed on flights in the US and Europe.

Then again, a dirty ashtray may be better than the odor of a plane full of farters.

NOTE FROM JOHN: Actually, this report is something a lot of frequent flyers knew long ago.  When you fly, the air pressure change makes everything swell, in addition to some of your organs (your eyes for example), and any gas inside of you.

I had this problem when flying after my eye surgery a few years back.  The French docs didn’t want me to fly for 3 months, I cheated and left after 2 months (my American doc said it should be okay).  My eye hurt like hell right after take-off.  When you get into the air, your eyes expand somewhat.  Same goes for gas.  Which is often whey I got cramps when flying internationally, until I read up on the subject and learned about this expanding gas problem years ago.  Now I use gas-x when I fly, and it helps a lot.

And cheer up, it could have been worse than farts on a plane.

Go ahead, fart on the plane.  Doctors say it’s good for your health.

Lead author Dr. Jacob Rosenberg, professor of surgery at the University of Copenhagen, said he always wondered why he had more flatulence flying than when on the ground. Then, after a recent trip, he opened his bag and noticed a water bottle “almost smashed by the change in ambient pressure,” said Rosenberg. “And then I thought of the mechanisms of increased bowel air volume when flying.”

Bad smell via Shutterstock

Bad smell via Shutterstock

It’s simple. When altitude increases, pressure decreases. According to the thermodynamic principal known as the “ideal gas law,” as pressure drops, volume increases. While cabins are pressurized to compensate, the mechanisms can only do so much. When the plane is at a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet, inside it’s still the equivalent of 8,000 feet above sea level. That’s a lot of physics bearing down on your intestines.

There’s a clear medical rationale for releasing the gas. Holding back flatulence can lead to “discomfort and even pain, bloating, dyspepsia and pyrosis,” according to the article, titled “Flatulence on Airplanes: Just Let it Go,” which surveyed previously published research and studies. It also notes that holding back flatulence has been suggested as a major risk factor for diverticular disease, a condition where pouches develop in the wall of the colon.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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