Trapped wind in the colon can cause abdominal discomfort and distension. Charcoal tablets, available from the chemist, can by absorbing excess gas, provide short term relief. The best method of dispersing trapped wind was discovered by accident by a patient admitted to hospital with toxic mega-colon — an inflammatory condition of the bowel which becomes grossly distended with vast quantities of gas.
While trying to make himself more comfort¬able, the patient adopted the Mecca position — kneeling on the bed bent forward with his arms stretched out in front and his bottom sticking up in the air. In this position he passed a quantity of flatus 'which continued for several minutes'. He immediately felt more comfortable so he repeated this manoeuvre several times 'with similar results'. He described his experience to his astonished surgeon, Mr M. Z. Panos of the University of Birmingham, who measured his abdominal girth and discovered he had indeed become a lot slimmer. 'Over the next fortnight his condition gradually improved at which point he was discharged fully recovered,' comments Dr Panos.
It has subsequently become standard practice for surgeons to prescribe the 'Mecca position' in such circumstances, thus avoiding much unnecessary surgery. The same technique is also likely to be of value for those with trapped or excess wind for other reasons such as constipation or an over-consumption of beans.