Let’s lighten up things a bit and talk gas. And not the kind you put in your car. Yes, I’m in an ornery mood this morning and isn’t it time for us all to have a good laugh? So, let’s just go there.
The question of the hour is this: do we actually fart more as we get older? And is all that extra unwanted gas harder to control? Sure seems that way, but is it actually true? Oh, come on, you know you’re curious.
Maybe you’ve heard the joke:
A little old lady goes to the doctor and says, “I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn’t bother me too much. The farts never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I’ve farted at least 20 times since I’ve been here, and I bet you didn’t even notice!”
The doctor says, “I see. Take these pills and come back next week.” The next week the lady goes back. “Doctor,” she says, “I don’t know what the you gave me, but now my farts – although still silent – stink terribly.”
The doctor says, “Good! Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s work on your hearing.”
If you read my blog, you must know by now I have a wicked sense of humor. Besides, it’s kind of fun to talk about normal stuff that makes people squirm a bit – like my blog on snot or having to pee all the time as we get older. It brings everyone back to earth and we can all feel united.
I first tackled the subject of unwanted gas in a humorous article, Blast This Bloatiness, written for Hot Flash Daily.
Because, as I pointed out in the article, along with all the other goodies that menopause blesses us with is a bloated stomach that makes us look pregnant – except we’re too old for that. As a result, instead of patting our tummies, people give us puzzled looks while they discreetly try to figure out our age and determine if pregnancy is even a remote possibility.
Just one of the indignities of menopause! But menopause isn’t the only cause for more gas. Simply getting older does the trick too.
Yes, it’s true and give me a break. Don’t get hoity toity on me. If you’re older, you know what I’m talking about.
As we age, we have insane gas that can’t be blamed on the dog. Our gas with newfound super human powers would make a trucker blush. In addition to our newly acquired breaking the wind skills, we’re also blessed with the awesome ability to burp like a frat boy.
Bend down to pick something up or tie your shoe and look out! Climb stairs and amazingly you have enough gas stored to poot on each individual step. Lie on the floor at the gym and lift your legs to exercise in a room full of people and prepare to die of embarrassment.
Not that flatulence and burping is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a normal, natural part of life and a sign that we’re healthy.
The National Institutes of Health tell us that the “average person passes intestinal gas 14 times a day.” How big is a single fart? According to one study, (oh, what fun being on that research team) a fart can range from the size of a bottle of nail polish for the daintiest of poots to a can of coke – the volume of a really big stinker.
Oh yes, that means you too are capable of producing a fart the size of a soda can. In fact, if you’re older, you can probably do better than that.
After all, the term “old fart” is around for good reason. Remember Golden Pond, when Ethel, played by Kathryn Hepburn, constantly calls her cantankerous old husband, Norman, played by Henry Fonda, “You old poop.”
I rest my case.
In case you’re wondering, there’s a logical reason why us older folk have more gas. Like everything else that slows down in our body, our digestion slows down too. That gives our intestinal bacteria more time to turn dinner into delightfully stinky gases that must be expelled at some point. On top of that, prescription drugs – like blood pressure medications and pain relievers – can also cause gas.
Worse yet, farts do not behave as discreetly as they used to when we were younger. As a result, there is a much higher potential for humiliation. This isn’t just your imagination – it’s a fact. As a medical expert succinctly said: “As we age, gas tends to build up in the lower colon before making a sometimes rapid and noisy escape,” says Karen Hall, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan who specializes in geriatrics and gastroenterology. I kid you not, that is an actual quote.
Oh, isn’t getting old fun sometimes? Once again, referencing Golden Pond, Norman is asked, “How does it feel to turn 80?” “Twice as bad as it did turning forty,” he answered wryly.
So, it turns out that none of this extra farting is our fault. We can’t help it. Which brings me to my next gripe. Why do men get to let ‘em rip and burp with no embarrassment whatsoever? Have you ever noticed that burps and farts are offered up by the opposite sex with a sense of pride, joy, and blissful relief?
We women, on the other hand, are expected to try and hold back what feels like the Hindenburg ready to explode. When we understandably and inevitably fail at the attempt, etiquette dictates that we shamefully leave the room turning five shades of red, hoping desperately and unrealistically that somehow, someway anyone who happened to be nearby didn’t hear the deafening detonation.
Despite popular belief, studies show that men do not have more farts than women, so that’s no excuse for men being more public about it while we women die trying to hold it in.
And did you know that constantly holding in gas can cause medical issues for your colon? Farting is actually good for you. But don’t count on a thumbs up for good health if you’re a woman and accidentally poot in an elevator. Sneeze and you get a polite “bless you,” but let a woman fart in public and oh my!
A man, however, just chuckles and all is forgiven. Worse yet, boys, and even grown men, brag about it. They ponder serious, thought-provoking, and deep questions like who is the best master blaster or who can create the deadliest Dutch oven. I’m a woman, but as a wife and mother of two sons and grandmother to one boy, I know this prank well. While lying in bed with someone, you pull the covers over his or her head while simultaneously letting a booty bomb explode, trapping the foul smell, so the other person suffers immensely. The stinkier and louder the better. The male species thinks this activity is endlessly entertaining.
Can you feel my eyeballs rolling? Men have it way too easy.
For example, they also seem to have a scratch-whatever-itches free card. Men shrug their shoulders and proudly snicker while contentedly relieving their itches. They remind me of animals at the zoo who obviously don’t worry about scratching questionably appropriate places in front of big crowds.
But society dictates that we women do not scratch certain things in public. The problem is they itch in public. And as we age, we feel even itchier. But we women have two choices. Either we try to discreetly sneak in a scratch when no one is looking – and prepare for looks of disgust if caught – or just grin and bear it.
Which isn’t fair, but fine. Whatever. I got off a bit on the subject.
Back to unwanted gas. Another super annoying thing is that men never think their own farts stink. “It’s not that bad,” they say as they efficiently clear the room. I guess we women don’t think our gas stinks either, but that’s besides the point.
Well, I have some good news for you. Turns out they have stylish fart filtering underwear to help with this smelly problem. Yes, I’m dead serious. These are the valuable things we can learn on the Internet. Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me. The underwear doesn’t come with a muffler but they supposedly reduce the smell.
But come on people. Wouldn’t it be much easier if we all just accepted that women fart too and that we all have more flatulence as we age?
Why can’t we be more like some cultures that not only approve of letting them fly in public, but actually seem to enjoy it? The Yanomami tribe, one of the aboriginal people of Venezuela, fart as a greeting. In ancient Rome, Emperor Claudius, passed a law giving the people liberty to “vent” at a banquet table any “distension occasioned by flatulence” after hearing about a modest person restraining from breaking wind and almost dying. Honest, I’m not making this stuff up!
With that in mind, I’m going to rebel right now and eat a humongous burrito, drink a couple of beers, and blissfully and unashamedly pretend I’m a man. I’ve duly warned my hubby so he can leave the room if he so desires. (Chicken!) OR, even better, maybe I’ll get really wild and run into an elevator full of people to do the deed and make the excellent point that we women have a right to fart too!
Yes, let’s start a movement to quit chastising farters – especially us women and older folk who can’t help it. Let’s all just give in and join the symphony! Are you with me? Toot, toot!
Images courtesy of (in order of appearance) iosphere, Graphics Mouse, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.