What Causes Trapped Wind?

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Feeling bloated, cramped up and uncomfortable? These might be signs of trapped wind, discover the what causes trapped wind and how to treat it here.

Trapped wind can feel like a stabbing pain in your chest or abdomen. The pain can be sharp enough to get you thinking it’s a heart attack, heart burn, or appendicitis.

Producing and passing gas is a normal part of your digestion. But when a bubble of gas gets stuck inside you, you want to relieve the pain as fast as possible, and if you have other symptoms, it’s a good idea to find out what’s causing the pain. So, lets discover what causes trapped wind and how to avoid it happening in the future.woman grabbing stomach

Symptoms of trapped wind

Common symptoms of trapped wind can affect people in different ways. The most common symptoms of trapped wind are:

  • A bloated stomach or abdomen
  • Flatulence or burping
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after eating
  • Rumbling or gurgling noises in your stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Pain when you bend over, lie down or during exercise
  • Pain that moves around the body; behind the ribs or up the back or even in to the shoulder.

Trapped wind symptoms usually come on suddenly. The pain can be a sharp stabbing, or just a general feeling of discomfort. Gas collects on different sides of the colon. Gas that collects on the left side can radiate up to your chest, and it may feel like you are suffering from heartburn. Whereas, gas that collects on the right side can feel like it might be appendicitis or gallstones.

What causes trapped wind?bloated woman

There are many causes of trapped wind. Most are related to the process of digestion, but some can also be the cause of a physical medical condition that may need treatment.

When we swallow air when we eat or drink, we release most of it as a burp. Any remaining gas will go in to the large intestine or colon, where bacteria are already working on breaking down undigested food, a process which also produces gas. It all eventually comes out as flatulence.

Wind can be caused by eating too fast, which leads us to gulp down air, or by drinking fizzy drinks or eating when stressed. Wearing tight clothing can restrict your diaphragm meaning that your waist can’t expand to make room for the food you are eating to digest, which can cause discomfort and the onset of trapped wind.

Not everyone reacts in the same way to the foods or drinks they consume, but these are the most common trigger foods:

  • High fibre foods
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Dairy foods
  • Fructose
  • High fat foods

Food intolerances

Some people do not have enough lactase which is the enzyme required to digest milk products. This is called, lactose intolerance. Others may have symptoms after eating foods containing gluten, which is a gluten intolerance.

These intolerances, if gone against or unknown, can cause trapped wind for an individual with such intolerances, as the body struggles to digest the food products in the correct way.


Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems. It is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week, and having stools that are hard and dry.

One common symptom of constipation is the inability to pass wind, therefore resulting in trapped wind, causing bloating and discomfort.


Your digestion and gas production are affected by the things you eat, how fast you eat, and your food combinations. The bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your large intestine are responsible for breaking down any food that isn’t fully processed by your small intestine.

Your colon processes carbohydrates like beans, cabbage, and broccoli into hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases. For some people, this can cause an excess of gas that may become trapped wind.

Tips for preventing trapped windjunk food

You can lower your risk of getting painful trapped wind by watching what, when and how you eat.

It may be useful to keep a food diary. This can help you keep track of the foods and reasons that cause you to have trapped wind. Then you can avoid those foods or other reasons that seem to give you the problem.

A few of the more common tips for combatting trapped wind are:

  • Drink warm water. Try adding a drop of peppermint oil to it
  • Drink herbal tea, chamomile, ginger, dandelion are particularly soothing
  • Massaging your lower abdomen can get the wind moving
  • Going for a walk uses gravity to move the gas out of your body.

There are other ways to rid of your trapped wind, or in fact avoid it all together, try adding a few of these tips to your daily life and watch your trapped wind disappear:

Keep it even

Eating regular meals means your digestive system can get into a routine, allowing digestion to flow more smoothly. Sometimes trying to eat meals little and often, if you don’t feel like having larger meals 3x a day, helps your digestive system, as it doesn’t have to digest such large meals at one time.

Avoid gassy foods

Certain foods create more gas in the digestive tract than others, like gassy baked beans. Vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, turnips, and leeks are also well known to be gassy. High fat foods and eggs are also notorious for producing bad smelling gas. So, where possible try to avoid these foods in your diet, or minimise the amount you have.

Slow the eating down

Eat slowly with your mouth closed to avoid gulping down air with your food when you swallow. Try to avoid rushing meals and eating on the go. Guzzling down drinks, particularly fizzy ones, instantly creates gas in the stomach, especially if they’re cold. The low temperature combined with the bubbles really irritates your diaphragm.

Mealtimes should ideally be times where you relax and enjoy your meal, nervous tension, or any tension, can affect digestion. If you’re feeling stressed, this can make you gulp air as you are more inclined to eat faster, if you feel as though you are tense before a meal, try relaxing your body and taking some deep breathes before eating.

Trapped wind can be acutely painful. It’s usually not serious, but may be a sign of a food intolerance or an underlying digestive problem. That isn’t to say that some people won’t find it more painful than others, it affects us all in different ways.  Watching what you eat and taking some preventive measures can help.

Now that you know all about what causes trapped wind, and how to prevent it from affecting you, why don’t you read up more on flatulence? Read our article what cause flatulence next.

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