Warning: this entry maybe too mephitic for the more sensitive Spo-fan.

Board members, relatives, or people offended easily:  you may as well leave now.

This week a patient asked me the question “Is farting bad?” This wasn’t a symptom per se but an inquiry whether it was a sign of good or ill health. I’ve been thinking about flatus a lot actually; lately I’ve been sleeping in the guest room so as not to bother Someone, who wakes in the night to lift the covers and shake out the sheets and inquire what have I been eating. This is a good question; I am trying to figure that out myself. Something in my diet is creating miasma. I’ve narrowed down the culprit list to yogurt, eating too quickly, or breakfasts with a lot of eggs. The redolence of sulfur suggests the later.

On average a person passes wind ~ 14 times a day, a natural phenomena which everyone does.  This is about a pint/day of gas with each fart is weighing ~ 0.04g.  Due to the individualism of the gut, each person has his or her own individual ‘odor signature’.

Try to tell as many people as you can at your next dinner party, why don’t you.

Farts as a source of humor goes back a long awhile. I remember reading ancient Greek comedy about Protagoras, who abstained from beans for religious reasons. His followers did the same. The parody mocked this with the actors eating beans and producing boisterous farts. “Fart jokes” started early and have never gone out of popularity. People may not remember too much of “Blazing Saddles” but they remember the campfire scene – over two million ‘hits’ to view it at Youtube. “I fart in your general direction” is the battle-cry of all Monty Python fans.  Mozart wrote fart music; I recall Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay titled “Fart Proudly”.

Needless to say these are all “male endeavors”. Men tend to fess up and even boast about theirs to other males, so with men farting isn’t ‘bad’. On the other hand females start to find farting repugnant and taboo pretty early in life, and would sooner die than admit having such*.  As a consequence, women tend to hold in their gas while men often exert theirs.

I told my patient a person’s diet effects their flatulence.  Chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, eating too quickly, and eating foods disagreeable to your constitution can all influence the amount of gas your produce.  Ironically eating more healthy foods like vegetables produces more gas albeit ‘cleaner’. Diets rich in meat and eggs (sulfur containing foodstuffs) produce less but more toxic ones.

All the same, I am abjuring eggs and soda pop, as well as artificial sweeteners, until things quiet down at home.

Rather than riposte a denial, or “blame it on the dog”, my new response to Someone’s inquiry “Did you fart?” is “Of course, you think I usually smell this way?”

* On the whole females are more sensitive than males towards things that evoke disgust. I think this is a fascinating topic in itself; it is worth blogging about someday.

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