The 7 ways to ease painful, trapped wind

From turkey with all the trimmings to mince pies and rich Christmas pudding, we all know how easy it is to overdo it at Christmas.

A splurge is fun and games until the painful, trapped wind wind kicks in, contributing to a bloated, uncomfortable tummy.

And while there’s over-the-counter remedies you can take, you’ll be keen to do all you can to get some relief.  

SELF spoke to gastroenterologists Dr Jamile Wakim-Fleming from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and Dr Kyle Staller from Massachusetts General Hospital to ask their top tips to help you overcome the dreaded flatulence this festive season.

We all know how easy it is to overdo it at Christmas – expert recommendations include sipping water and exercising (stock image)


Wind often happens as a normal part of your digestive process.

Excess flatulence occurs when food fails to breakdown properly in the stomach and small intestine and ends up undigested in the bowels. 

Bacteria in the bowel process these undigested sugars, producing gasses – namely hydrogen sulphide which is smelly.

Certain foods, like cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, are more likely to cause gas than others.

However, everyone has their own triggers.

Food intolerance can lead to bloating and the main offenders are wheat or gluten and dairy products.

1. Sip water slowly

If your mother swears by a glass of warm water to ease trapped wind then she knew what she was talking about.

According to Dr Wakim-Fleming, this does two things. Firstly it can help to get any undigested foods to get moving through your digestive system.

The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract as they move food through your digestive tract. 

So secondly, sipping water prevents them from contracting too quickly and strongly, creating painful spasms. 

2. Reduce the amount of air you swallow 

Drinking water helps but don’t take big gulps o at a time, warns Dr Wakim-Fleming. Avoid using straws, drinking fizzy beveragesand chewing gum. 

Don’t talk and eat at the same time, sit down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), and chew with your mouth closed so that you’re not taking in excess air.

3. Get up and walk around

It might feel like that last thing you want to do when you’re in agony, but some gentle exercise can help clear up painful gas and bloating. A quick walk or other gentle movement can work wonders.

Try doing toe touch stretches to let gravity work to get the gas out of your body.

Twisting exercises can help push air out of digestive system, this can be done in a chair or on the ground. 

Sit with your feet facing forward then rotate your torso to the right and reach around to hold back of the chair, then repeat other direction. 

4. Cut down on diary if you think it is the culprit

One of the main symptoms of lactose intolerance is bloating. But even if you aren’t intolerant, dairy is well known for causing indigestion and it’s possible you’ve overindulged on the cheeseboard and creamy Bailey’s.  

According to Dr Staller, many people in their twenties and thirties have symptoms and don’t suspect that it’s the dairy products.

So if you suspect dairy is contributing to your painful wind, try cutting it out for a few weeks – or at the very least, the rest of the day.

5. Drink peppermint tea 

Peppermint is said to relieve bloating by relaxing your muscles and allowing you to release any pent up gas or flatulence, says Dr Staller.

It has a spasmolytic affect, meaning it can help your intestines from cramping – which is what increases wind.

Peppermint tea is said to relieve bloating by relaxing the muscles in your digestive system (stock image)

Peppermint tea is said to relieve bloating by relaxing the muscles in your digestive system (stock image)

While this is well known to happen with sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, the same process of muscle contractions occurs during general bouts of trapped wind, he explained.   

Peppermint tea should not be given to small children or infants or taken by people with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure if you should take it.

6. Apply a heated pad on your stomach

Don’t forget that exercising and movement helps – but along with this you could try cozying up under a blanket with a heated pad on your abdomen.

Warmth can have an antispasmodic effect on your body and help your intestines to relax instead of contract too hard or too much, said Dr Wakim-Fleming.  

7. Up your fiber intake

We’re always told to up our fiber intake to help keep our digestive systems running smoothly.It bulks up your stool, which helps you stay regular and avoid constipated.

But on the other hand, consuming too much can make you gassy as the bacteria in your colon works to break this tough nutrient down.

The vegetables you’ve had on your Christmas dinner, especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, can cause problems. It’s best to avoid those foods until you feel better.