Why am I so gassy after exercising?

Tuesday June 2 2020


By Dr Karuhanga

Whenever I engage in intense exercise, say on a treadmill or jogging, I keep passing lots of gas when I stop. Why? — Bareeba
Dear Bareeba,
Every human being passes gas or they would suffer abdominal bloating, the discomfort of gas distending the abdomen and loss of appetite among other effects.

Gas is normally formed in the digestive system from the process of digestion of food itself, small organism activity in the big intestines and from air swallowing. This gas has to be expelled by farting (about 20 times a day) or belching to avoid health complications.

If one produces much more gas, then they may notice increased farting just as when someone eats foods that produce more gas (beans, diary) or certain digestive system disorders, including food intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. Because of these factors, regardless of whether they exercise or not, some people will actually fart more than usual.
That said, people doing intense exercises tend to swallow more air when they drink fluids (or eat a snack) during exercising. This is because at the same time, they are eating or drinking, they are gasping for air and swallowing too much air instead of breathing it in.

Also, intense physical exercise speeds up the digestion process, causing gas to be produced faster leading to farting more to avoid air accumulation in the digestive system.
Therefore, it is important to take a snack and drink fluids before or after an intense physical activity instead of during the intense activity.

I get burning spots with little water on my mouth, especially when I walk during a windy day. I have got three attacks in a year. Am I allergic to wind? — Stella

Dear Stella,
Burning spots on the lips could be herpes simplex. Of the two main types of herpes simplex infections, type 1 affects the mouth most but due to oral sex, type 2, which mainly affects the genitals, may also affect the mouth. Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) may be contracted from using the same utensils, kissing or sharing lipstick or toothbrush of a person with the condition.


Once one gets herpes infection, the virus hides in the nerves from the body’s defences only later to emerge in the same area because of a trigger. Fevers due to malaria, a common cold, pneumonia and typhoid among others can trigger an attack the reason they are called fever blisters.

Other triggers include stress and anxiety, friction (through smooching), menstruation, fatigue, other serious illnesses, reduced immunity due to diseases such as HIV infection or taking drugs called steroids (used in Uganda mostly for allergies), eating lots of foods high in arginine such as chocolate and over-exposure to sunlight.
Although a diet rich in the amino acid lysine (meat poultry and soya) can prevent outbreaks, over time, the body creates antibodies resulting in reducing outbreaks. Washing hands and not sharing utensils, tooth brushes or lipstick can also prevent infections.

Use of antiviral drugs such as acyclovir can help lessen attacks but one requires taking them over a long period of time or as soon as the burning on the lips starts. It is likely that it is the sunshine rather than the day being windy that could be causing your outbreaks.

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