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On Fart Humor: Why Are Farts Funny?

If you’re living with adolescents—and, let’s face it, especially boys—then you’ve likely noticed that farting is really funny. Like hilariously so.

But why?

Well, there’s the sound. Farts really do come in a variety of them.

And while we all pass gas—up to 20 times a day on average—it’s not exactly socially acceptable. So, when it happens in public, it’s comedy to just about every 12 year old on the planet.

Finally, as anyone who’s grown up with brothers can attest, farting is a show-stopper in the near-constant wrangling between some siblings. “I’ve seen my boys literally sit on each other’s faces and fart,” recalls one mom (and, yes, she was laughing).

Let’s not let girls off the hook, though. Sisters aren’t above using gas to annoy their siblings either. “Oh yeah,” adds another mom. “My girls like to walk into each other’s room, fart, and then run out laughing.”

Still, beyond the humor, is farting ever cause for concern?

“Passing gas can be an adventure sport for tweens and teens,” agrees Dr. Ellen Rome, a pediatrician with the Cleveland Clinic. “Especially if encouraged.”

That said, adds Rome, farting is not typically a harbinger of any serious problems. But an overabundance of gas from your teenager can signal an allergy. If your teenager’s nightly bowl of ice cream tends to result in a smelly evening, then an allergy is probably the cause. “If it seems excessive, ask a pediatrician about it. Your teenager may be lactose or fructose intolerant.”

The good news for sufferers (and we don’t just mean the individual with the allergy): there are simple ways to clear the air. “Take Lactaid before consuming dairy products,” suggests Dr. Rome, who’s also head of adolescent medicine for the Clinic. “And Smarties—yes, the candies—work for fructose intolerance.”

Diana Simeon

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.