You’re ripping farts left and right. Some are silent, others are loud enough to wake the neighbors, but one thing is for certain: there’s a steaming hot turd waiting to work its way out of your b-hole. But when you sit down on the throne, you can’t poop. What gives?
Having lots of gas but not being able to poop is a relatively common occurrence and it’s probably not a cause for concern (unless you haven’t pooped for several days). Chances are your diet or dehydration is to blame. However, there are other gastrointestinal issues that can make you gassy and constipated at the same time.
Keep reading to learn the relationship between farts and constipation and how to get your bowel movements back in sync.
What Does It Mean When You Have Lots of Gas But Can’t Poop?
As if constipation wasn’t already a pain in the butt (literally), it can also give some people really bad gas. When that happens, you may experience bloating, abdominal pain, difficulty passing stool, and farts that smell particularly deadly.
Here are a few reasons why you might be gassy and constipated at the same time.
Consuming a lot of carbs can make you fart more, according to the NIH. Certain foods and beverages contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars, starches, and fiber, which your stomach and small intestine can’t fully digest. Those undigested carbs proceed to the large intestine, where bacteria break them down, resulting in the production of flatulence.
Not drinking enough water is one of the most common causes of constipation. Normally, your large intestine soaks up water as poop moves through it. But If you do not have enough fluids in your system, your intestine will remove extra water from the stool so it doesn't go to waste. This leaves you with hard, dry, pebble poop that’s hard to pass—even if you’re farting a lot.
Lack of Fiber
If you’re farting but can’t poop, you may be lacking fiber: the fuel for big, smooth, healthy dumps. If you don’t get enough fiber from your diet, there’s a strong chance you’ll fire blanks on the can.
Shockingly, only 5% of Americans meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily intake of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men.
Chewing gum makes you swallow air, which creates little gas pockets in your gut. This leads to stomach pain, bloating, and (you guessed it) gas. If you can’t stop farting but can’t poop either, blame the bubble gum you’ve been chomping.
A similar effect can occur if you eat or drink too fast, use a straw, or guzzle carbonated beverages—those all put air pockets in your stomach that come out as farts.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition where excess colonic bacteria buildup in your gut. Normally, gastric acid slows the growth of bacteria in your small intestine, but SIBO can cause that mechanism to fail, leading to chronic bloating and flatulence.
Can You Be Constipated and Still Have Gas?
Normally, constipation can make it harder to pass gas. But it’s still possible to be constipated and gassy at the same time.
Even if stool movement is slow or limited, your digestive process continues in the intestines. As undigested food and waste move through your colon, gut bacteria can ferment these substances.
During the fermentation process, gasses like methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen are produced. These gasses build up in the intestines, creating the perfect storm for you to fart up a storm.
So, while constipation may slow down your bowel movements, it doesn’t stop the system that makes you pass gas.
What to Do If You Have Lots of Gas But Can’t Poop
Trying to coax out that brown snake but only getting gas? Try these tips to kickstart your colon.
Avoid Eating Foods That Don’t Fully Digest
Some foods (especially ones that are high in insoluble fiber) don’t get fully digested and can cause serious gas. These foods include:
- Fruits such as pears, apples, and peaches
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower
- Peas, beans, and lentils
- Whole grains
- Dairy products (lactose)
- Sugary drinks like soda and sports drinks
- Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water turns your turds from blocks of concrete into smooth brown sausages. As a rule of thumb, dudes should drink about 15 cups of H2O every day to keep their digestive system running smoothly.
Eat and Drink Slower
Guzzling food and drinks fast creates air pockets in your stomach and intestines. That’s because you’re swallowing extra air, which eventually comes out of your ass in the form of thunderous farts.
You’re not Joey Chestnut on the 4th of July—slow down speed racer.
You may also want to avoid chewing gum, drinking fizzy drinks, and drinking through a straw. These are all common culprits of gas that can trick you into thinking you need to poop.
Try a Supplement
There are countless over-the-counter remedies that promise to tame bloating and gas, but here are the main ingredients to look for, according to the American College of Gastroenterology
- Antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine or hyoscyamine, to relieve stomach spasms
- Alpha-d-galactosidase, which is used to help in the digestion of complex carbohydrates
- Simethicone (the active ingredient in Gas-X) which treats the symptoms of gas like fullness, pressure, and bloating
- Charcoal tablets, which may absorb gasses in your stomach
- Bismuth subsalicylate, the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol
When to Worry About Your Farts
If your farts get out of control, it could be a sign of a gastrointestinal disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
These cause the lining of your digestive tract to flare up, leading to diarrhea, cramping, chronic constipation, bad gas, and severe stomach pain. If you experience these symptoms, it might be time to talk to a gastroenterologist.
That said, most dudes pass gas about 20 times per day, so don’t freak out every time you’ve got one cooking in the chamber. Let it rip without fear—we’ll be there in case your fart turns into a shart.