Gas Happens, Part 2… “Feortan”

8 Feb

Well you asked for it!  In addition to tons of comments on the burping blog, there were many plea’s for a follow up for flatulence!  So here goes..

Flatulence, farts, passing gas,breaking wind, frittering…no matter what your word is for it, we all know what we are talking about!  We have all experienced an excessive expulsion of wind from the derriere region.  And we all have our delicate and special words for it.  At work where there are cubicles, it is known as “crop dusting”.  In a crowd, it is a “backblast”.  It can be descriptive, such as “burner” or “SBD” (silent but deadly).  No need for any term other than “courtesy window please” is needed in a closed car.  The list is endless.  But what is flatulence anyway?  Let’s clear the air!

Flatulence, not fart, is the accepted medical term for excessive wind from the anus.  Where did the word “fart” come from then?  By some accounts it is derived from the word feortan, an Old English term meaning “to break wind”.   How often do we really pass gas?  You might be surprised that the average for gas passing in a 24 hour period is 12-14 times.  Men expel more gas at about a half a cup than women, who come in at a dainty third of a cup.  Remember that this is an average, meaning that some of us do it more, and some of us do it less.  I have a brother that is certainly not average, he is an over acheiver!

Those of us that grew up with big brothers became accustomed at an early age to a great assortment of smells and odors.  Being a baby sister to three brothers, I was usually the perfect target for big brother tricks.  There are only so many times that I fell prey to a certain tactic, so they really had to make every effort count.  As an unsuspecting victim, my brother would back up and ask me to see if there was a “hole in my pants” while gently pointing his buttocks close to my face.  “I can’t see it, so can you please look?”  Well a little sister wants to help out, so I would get up close and personal to his behind.  That is when I got blasted right in the face…or should I say nose!  This was one of many tactics to make sure I had a front row seat to my brothers gas hang time.  All tactics were certain to produce a healthy dose of laughter from them, as well as a story to be retold to their friends countless times!

What causes these sudden expulsions of gas?   There are many reasons.  Gas can come up our esophagus as a burp.  When we have gas lower down in our GI tract, it comes out through the path of least resistance, which is the back end.  Bacteria in the intestines can produce a variety of gas.  Sulfur mixed in with the other gases is what causes the odor, and hydrogen causes the expulsion to waft upward.  The noise of the gas comes from the volume of gas squeezing through a tight opening.  It is similar to pinching and stretching the opening of a balloon to make a squeaking sound.

Any way you cut the cheese, it is a normal bodily function.  As a culture, like burps, we do not accept flatulence as decent, but other cultures are more accepting of this natural bodily function.  But it is ot good to let that gas build up in the intestines.  So I say, let it rip!


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