Some background:

I am a low level executive for a SMB with roughly 500 employees in the United States. Among other things, my role calls for me to directly supervise about a dozen employees.

I have a small office (roughly 16 ft by 20 ft) with a small window that opens, and a door that closes, but airflow is virtually non-existent.

I have a very busy schedule, with a number of high priority projects that must be completed on-time.

The problem:

Under normal circumstances, if I need to pass gas, I will excuse myself to the restroom, occupy a stall, and do the deed. Everything is fine. This might happen once or twice a week, and it does not cause any meaningful disruption.

Today, however, is a different matter. I don't know what it is that I ate last night, but something has disagreed with my digestion in a minor way. All day today I have felt an almost incessant need to pass gas.

With each subsequent trip to the bathroom, I began to feel a little more guilty about the time I was wasting. After the sixth or seventh trip to the bathroom, I stopped, and I have since been passing gas in my office when the pressure becomes unbearable.

I opened up my window and my door to promote airflow, but I am truly dreading the moment when one of my direct reports comes in to my office to talk to me about something. I have no doubt that he/she will be able to detect the unpleasant odor of human flatulence.

So the question then:

If you need to pass gas more than a few times in a given day, what is the best way to deal with this situation while maintaining professionalism? I am needing to pass gas often enough that making a trip to the bathroom is not feasible.

  • Also, this is culturally dependent. I've heard claims that in one country fasting is not considered offensive but blowing your nose would be.
    – keshlam
    May 6, 2016 at 20:44
  • 1
    I would prefer to leave arguments about urination vs flatulence out of my question, so I have created a meta post to further the discussion.
    – Lumberjack
    May 6, 2016 at 22:41
  • 2
    Not the same but related workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/59983/…
    – paparazzo
    May 6, 2016 at 23:27
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    Just think about what you would expect if you were in the shoes of others. No one is going to be offended from an occasional "gassy" day, so don't stress if it happens sometimes. If the problem is truly chronic you may consider remedies in the long term (such as diet or medicine), in the meantime if it gets out of hand, open a window, use an activated-charcoal seat cushion, take walks, etc.
    – teego1967
    May 7, 2016 at 13:44
  • @teego1967 Thank you very much. This is a great comment. If the question is re-opened I hope you will consider posting an answer.
    – Lumberjack
    May 7, 2016 at 14:04

4 Answers 4


I would suggest keeping the door closed, the window open and some air freshener handy, If the door is closed, your reports will have to knock. That way they wont just walk in unexpectedly. Keep the air freshener under your desk, spray when you need to, and invite your reports in when it's safe.

  • 2
    And reschedule all your meetings.
    – keshlam
    May 8, 2016 at 8:55
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    Having a rough day today and i thought back on this. Still great advice two years later. I have tried a few different options for air freshener. The best I have found is a discrete little spray bottle of essential oils called Poo Pourri. They were intended for a different purpose, but they work great in this application.
    – Lumberjack
    Apr 6, 2018 at 17:34
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    @Lumberjack I am diabetic and on Metformin, which has been nicknamed "MetFARTmin", and for good reason. Whatever works, works. It's also becoming a common problem, so there's a bit more sympathy now than there was a while back. Apr 6, 2018 at 18:11

The foul smelling part is flammable. Light a candle or one of those room-scenters with a candle inside. Or one of those tea warmers with a candle inside. Works really well in the bathroom too, if you have a big party and lots of people using it.

  • 1
    +1. Our dog at home has extremely gassy days and it does make a big difference. Though whether a naked flame would be allowed in most offices, I'm not sure... May 16, 2016 at 7:43

This almost feels like reviving a thread fading out, but - from reading closely through your current threads (which I did because of real interest in the matter, the first one being the (alleged) micromanagement one) - could it be that you're simply, these days, in a generally less-than-calm (or mildly nervous) disposition? Let me say I'm with you there, there's that kind of times. It could be not something you ate that was troubling your physical condition just now. Talking of physiological processes and reactions, that would be nothing so much out of the ordinary. Apart from that, mixing healthy foods like whole grain with junk food (any hidden-sugar bombs in particular), as might happen more likely with a stressant workpace, can have a similar effect. Experience suggests that getting enough sleep or not is also a factor. You could make sure also that your general physical condition is sound as a line of precaution, but what I gather from the reading is that some calming down (the potential of which you may not be aware of right now) could go a long way towards leveling things out a bit. Weekend's coming, it's also a holiday so get some rest, don't worry too much and all the best for the upcoming discussions.

On another note, one thought that came to mind was that things may be quite different than what they seem but may be much more on the harmless side for yourself, such as your own manager having his own agenda or his manager's about what entails (or preceded) Brent's leaving but quite possibly neither anything to do with you nor in any way threatening to you (unless you choose to step in the way of things you quite don't need to). I've seen things happen, everybody got nervous on a scale from subliminally to quite obviously, and in the end it was kind of a heavy train passing by that never troubled the working team in reality, it was just rolling its way past and there was nothing to get overly involved with.


Take a sick day. If you can't perform your job because you are constantly running to the bathroom; then go home.

If you need to do work, tell them you aren't feeling well, and would prefer to work from home that day.

  • Thank you for your answer. I'd like to ask a clarifying question if I may. Your answer seems to state as a given that I should not pass gas unless I am in the bathroom. Am I understanding correctly? Because I could perform my job without constantly running to the bathroom, but doing so would mean passing gas in my office.
    – Lumberjack
    May 8, 2016 at 12:09

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