This is How Flying Makes You Bloated

This is How Flying Makes You Bloated

Some people are uncomfortable flying, and it’s not because they’re squeezed into a seat with no legroom for hours, flanked by two people hogging the armrests (well, that’s not the only reason at least).

Flying can make people uncomfortable in another way: bloating.

You may’ve noticed it the last time you went airborne, but there’s something about flying that unsettles people’s digestive systems. Why does it happen?


It may be that giant hamburger your devoured before boarding, but the more likely culprit for most is the air pressure in the cabin.

As the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, cabin air pressure decreases to approximately the levels you’ll find at about 6,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, according to the World Health Organization.

Related: Traveling by Plane? Always Bring a Tennis Ball, Experts Suggest

This causes any trapped gasses to expand, which is known as Boyle’s Law. (This law explains why water bottles in your carry-on open randomly during a fight.) This includes gasses in your body, which can lead to discomfort and some issues. For example, your ears might pop, or you might experience sinus pain as gasses in that area expand. It also causes your gastrointestinal tract to expand, which makes you feel gassy and bloated.

The best way to battle in-flight bloat is, unsurprisingly, avoiding foods that cause gas like beans carbonated drinks, or cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts.

Photo Credit: illpaxphotomatic/; Matej Kastelic/

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