According to a new study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, airline passengers who are suffering from flatulence during a flight should pass gas because changes in air pressure at altitude result in the body producing more gas.
“[Holding back] holds significant drawbacks for the individual, such as discomfort and even pain, bloating, dyspepsia [indigestion], pyrosis [heartburn] just to name but a few resulting abdominal symptoms,” said the study. “Moreover, problems resulting from the required concentration to maintain such control may even result in subsequent stress symptoms.”
The study also concluded that women’s flatulence smells worse than men’s, sulphur causes the odor and the average person passes gas ten times a day, reports AFP.
The study's authors included five gastroenterologists from Denmark and Britain, who said passengers may experience poor service from the cabin crew for passing gas, but the health benefits outweighed any negative impacts.
The study claimed that textile covers used on seats in economy class absorbed up to 50 percent of odors because they are gas permeable, unlike the leather seats in first class.
The study suggested airlines could improve the odor-eating properties of the seats: “We humbly propose that active charcoal should be embedded in the seat cushion, since this material is able to neutralize the odor. Moreover active charcoal may be used in trousers and blankets to emphasize this effect.”
However, the study did not recommend passing gas for the cockpit crew: “On the one hand, if the pilot restrains [flatulence], all the drawbacks previously mentioned, including impaired concentration, may affect his abilities to control the plane. On the other hand, if he lets go of the [flatulence], his co-pilot may be affected by its odor, which again reduces safety onboard the flight.”