What the Yuck: I get gassy on planes
November 25th, 2011
08:44 AM ET

What the Yuck: I get gassy on planes

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: Why do I get so gassy on plane rides?

For starters, as the plane ascends, air pressure decreases (that’s what can cause your ears to pop), so the gas in your intestines expands.

Adding to the problem, many of us avoid using the plane’s tiny (germy!) bathroom, but holding in a bowel movement can cause flatulence, as well as discomfort and pain.

To avoid this problem, use the facilities when nature calls and steer clear of carbonated drinks. It also helps to get up and walk around during your flight - which you should do anyway to prevent blood clots - to prevent your crunched abdomen from putting additional pressure on your intestines.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Gramma

    Eat only salads the day before and the day of the flight . Don't eat meat or fruit which will cause gas. Eat as many raw veggies ( alkaline foods) as you can handle. You'll be surprised how this works. It's only for 24 hours , so you can do it easily. Your body will thank you by being quiet during the flight. Eat when you land !

    November 25, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John Gabriel

      You want to avoid all fruit and vegetables because both cause flatulence. Lettuce is notorious for gas.

      Odd thing is: If gluttonous Americans would eat properly (chew their food) rather than wolf down their food, then they would be able to eat anything without worrying about flatulence. It would also help to lose your fat butts and get some exercise.

      Try to take a dump before you get on the plane. A bowl of bran taken the morning before the flight will do the trick in most cases. If you have a damaged colon, you may need more potent laxatives. Please, please think of others!

      November 25, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      You should be eating this way all the time, not just 24 hrs before flying!

      November 25, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse |
    • Joshl

      Why not just water/juice fast the day before and the day of?

      November 25, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • BillRubin

      I tried that tonight and it did the opposite! I felt like a Thanksgiving day parade balloon and let the biggest one rip! I've never been so embarassed and its your fault!

      November 25, 2011 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • RB

      This might not be a good solution for everyone. I, for one, can't eat any raw veggies without intestinal cramping, bloating, and gas. Flying on a plane would probably make this worse! (Don't worry, I still get plenty of veggies, I just cook them thoroughly first.) I don't buy the acidity/alkalinity argument, anyway - stomach acid is pH 1 or 2 (extremely acidic) and unless you consume massive numbers of antacid tablets, I don't see how anything you eat is going to have an effect on this level.

      November 26, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      There's somethin' to be said for a good f-rt !!!

      November 27, 2011 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Jermaine

    What's the worry – let it rip when on the plane. When I can afford to fly I eat plenty of pigs feet and corn bread prior so everyone enjoys the ride.

    November 25, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John Gabriel

      Because of pigs like you, there is a need for a full-bowel detector. You should not be allowed on the plane.

      November 25, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Hey – where's the Like button for this?

      November 27, 2011 at 00:30 | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      LMAO! Jermaine is funny!

      John Gabriel, loosen up a bit, dude. Sounds like you need a bowel movement yourself to relieve yourself of some pent up cynicism.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse |
  3. Green Fog

    Last time I few I stopped off at Taco Bell for a full lunch on my way to the airport. Hey.... what the heck, eh? I've had the person next to me fall asleep and keel over on my shoulder, the person ahead of me recline their seat into my lap, and I've been stuck next to some lady who literally bathed in some weird smelling perfume. If I have any regrets about my actions it's that I didn't have one more burrito for lunch that day.

    November 25, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. SilentBoy741

    Why did they use a picture of some woman who looks like she's TRYING to unload right on the poor sap in the aisle seat?

    November 25, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Poodles

      She's trying to mount him. She's not bad looking, so it wouldn't be a bad thing.

      November 25, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      It's what they do. They're into that kind of stuff.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
    • Rosemary

      What do you mean?

      December 10, 2011 at 05:25 | Report abuse |
  5. kdw31

    Every time I've flown, my children (5 months and 2 years) will either poop their pants on the way up or the way down. Very annoying.

    November 25, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kathy, Puristat Digestive Specialist

    The proper cand complete digestion of various foods (carbs, fats, protiens, etc.) is essential to reducing and eliminating gas. A digestive enzyme an hour before the flight may help greatly. These guys have a good product here:


    Happy Flying!

    November 25, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ling

    BEANO with meal/drink before you get on 2-4 hrs before

    November 25, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ronda

    If the only time you chew sugarless gum is when you fly (to keep your ears from getting clogged), it could be the artificial sweetener in the gum making you gassy.

    November 25, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Roberto

    Then there are some people like me who don't need to fly to get gassy. Heck, I get gassy looking at linoleum.

    November 25, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Poodles

    It's best to just let 'em rip whenever you need to. Sharing is caring, after all.

    November 25, 2011 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ed

    Gas is normal and healthy. If your diet does feed the bacteria that generates gas then it's not feeding your body properly.

    November 25, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jermaine

    What's the problem – let it rip like I do when I'm on a plane. I eat corn bread and pigs feet the day before to increase the pleasure of other passengers.

    November 25, 2011 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. mmi16

    You got to do what nature commands!

    November 26, 2011 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bill W

    To begin with,we have far more important things to worry about,than whether we pass gas on a plane.If people are gas shy,
    then by all means eat light before you fly.That said,we need to all remember that flatulence is a natural function of the body,
    and there is nothing shameful about it.The reality here is that whenever you have a bunch of people crowded into a relatively
    cramped space,the air will get foul from time to time.It is part of the human condition,and is simply unavoidable at times.If I am
    on a plane,I tend to worry more about terrorism,bad weather,and unsafe planes.Someone's digestive emmissions are low
    on the priority list for me.After all,problems with the former issues could well be deadly.The latter while unpleasant,seldom

    November 26, 2011 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Natch

    Take a Gas-X, if you're worried about it. Otherwise, just keep your butt planted in the seat, and freely "crop dust" the people around you. If you notice them looking around, trying to figure out where the smell is coming from, act the same way. If you just sit in your seat, smiling like the Cheshire Cat, they will know it's you!!

    And besides, you won't smell any worse than the clown 2 rows down, who took off his shoes! YUCK!!

    November 26, 2011 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Rick

    Aim your little vent so it blows the smell onto the 300lb person taking up half of your seat.

    November 26, 2011 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tamara reina

    Good health is alway good for a person ,boy fighting generic genes is hard.

    November 26, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Hello

    I have this problem all the time, but planes make it worse. The suggestions here don't resolve it, so I try to not feel bad about it. It's worse in the evenings/at night. What does that mean? Those of us with this problem daily are not doing it on purpose, guys.

    November 26, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. naoma

    Please don't sit near me~! I'd probably tell you to "do that in the toilet." Seriously, why do it in public? I do not have this problem, but maybe it is because I never eat before I fly (no one ever starved for missing a meal).

    November 26, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Texas Harry

    Take Beano® before every flight!

    November 26, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carlos

      To AliveAir: To AliveAir: First of all, great reviews! Second, I live in a hot ctmlaie so my A/C window unit HAS to be on continuously in order for the room (250 sq feet) to cool down. Buying a purifier seems futile because allergens are continuously being pumped into the room when the A/C is on. I am thinking about buying the Airpod MT2, but how effective will a purifier be if I have an operating A/C window unit (which does not have a filter)? Thanks!

      March 5, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
  21. Aaron

    Thanks for all the advice. (which I will not follow)
    When Posting about how I should deal with my health functions please list YOUR QUALIFICATIONS.

    November 26, 2011 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dood

      Well, I'm flatulent in 4 languages, finished top of my gas.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse |
  22. sam

    Stop drinking all that beer and taking shots

    November 26, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply



    So interesting that people don't know this.

    November 26, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Paul

    This just in, people have gas! Great job CNN you got to the bottom of that quick, maybe because you are full of gas yourself.

    November 26, 2011 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Joshua

    Just let it flow...plus its a great conversation starter.

    November 26, 2011 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Heynen

    There are some very disturbing elements in this picture. First of all, the plane is obviously not even completely filled – why did they group all those poor (flatulent) customers in the same section? Secondly, the grim reaper seems to be sitting with a straw hat and shinbone cane three rows back from the climbing woman that is the subject of this photo. This is a terrifying and unnecessary reminder of my own mortality and I'll be reporting this image to the proper authorities at CNN.

    November 26, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • heynen's left brain

      really? that's an actual comment?
      The photo is staged.
      And let it rip.

      November 26, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      LOL! Heynen "Like" even though the button is missing.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
  27. colonelingus

    Was on a plane once when the woman ( rather attractive too ) sitting next to me, leaned over to get something out of her purse. She tore one off that sounded like the port engine backfired. She must have touched cloth with it as well because it was rank for quite a while afterwards. Bit of an icebreaker to say the least. Or should I say ice melter.

    November 27, 2011 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Geoff

    I have a thing for cabbage and onions. Cooked just right they make a delicious veggie dish that nobody can say no to. It's reassuring to know that gassy problems don't get almost unbearable just for me when on a plane. I feel confident about letting the gas expel from my colon now that I know everyone else has the same problem. As a matter of entertainment on a long flight maybe we should compare odors and vote on the worst one!

    November 27, 2011 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sonya

    Planes stink and their gross and germ ridden. Don't fly and you won't get gassy!

    November 27, 2011 at 04:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. David

    I was once on an Air France flight from the US West Coast to Paris. Someone was letting some very nasty SBD's (Silent But Deadlies). One passenger finally had had enough and pressed the Flt. Attendant button to complain. I will never forget the sight of those two lovely French FA's cat walking down both isles off the plane with air freshner spraying ahead of themselves.....I've always liked Air France for this!

    November 27, 2011 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Shawn

    Sat next to a mom and her almost 2 year old. OMG!!! The baby did a #2. It took the mom a while to realize junior filled his pants. Very adorable kids though.

    November 27, 2011 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. beernpizzalover

    The chick in the pic is pretty hot; she could climb over me anyday...
    But, come on – at least show the typical 3-abreast passenger seat – instead of this puddle-jumper commuter plane!

    November 27, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. yash

    Most of the time what happens is fruits were served with meals so if fruits were consumed along with meals that cause gas in the stomach .so better to avoid fruits along with meals or else should be eaten later on.

    November 27, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Joe Sixpack

    Some people will bring garbage like hard boiled eggs and cabbage on the flight with them and then crack them open while in the air and stink up the whole cabin. I wish we could throw those people out a window.

    November 28, 2011 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. sam

    What about all the rotten poison coming out of everyones mouth,with all that disease they may have,plus all the smell of alcohol ,yuk Ever since smoking has been banned Disease is rampant because of no ventilation...suffer with it.........

    November 28, 2011 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Portland tony

    Actually I find the eating of strange hotel and airport food plus the anxiety of rushed air travel may cause a little gas.

    November 28, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. mare

    Maybe its the WOMAN trying to get to the bathroom before she lets one rip. I've done that myself.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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