Burping a lot can be embarrassing, but it also makes us feel a whole lot better. Ojash Raval, DO, UnityPoint Health explains what causes burping, six ways to manage burps and the most common medical condition associated with excessive burping.
Why Do I Burp So Much?
“When we eat, we chew food with our teeth. By doing this, we introduce little pockets of air in-between the chewed pieces of food. When we swallow, the chewed-up food and the air in-between all goes through the esophagus and ends up in the stomach. There, stomach acid begins the process of dissolving food. As food breaks down, the swallowed air is released and tends to sit at the top of the stomach,” Dr. Raval says.
With all that food and the air that comes in with it, the stomach expands. One of the easiest ways to reduce that expansion is for the digestive system to get rid of the swallowed air. When the air moves from the stomach, back through the esophagus and into the upper throat, you get a burp. Of course, if you don’t burp, the gas can come out the other end. However, as the air gets pushed through the digestive tract to pass gas, it usually results in a bloated feeling.
The most common reason for burps is simply swallowing excess air. Excessive burping varies person to person, but it is excessive when you thinks it's causing adverse changes to your day-to-day functioning.
Dr. Raval says looking at how and what you eat and drink might help you get belching under control.
How Can I Stop Burping?
If you want to stop burping a lot, Dr. Raval says try changing these six things:
- Toss the Gum. If you chew gum, you’ll tend to have more air in your stomach.
- Eat Slower. Eating slower helps you take in less air. Take time to sit down for a meal and avoid on-the-go meals.
- Try Smaller Meals. Try smaller, more frequent meals rather than two-to-three larger meals per day.
- Focus on Water. Carbonated beverages such as pop, sparkling water and beer cause more belching. The fizz is caused by carbon dioxide, which also causes burping.
- Stop Smoking. When you inhale the smoke, you are also inhaling excess air into your stomach.
- Check for Acid Reflux. Acid reflux creates a general irritation for the upper stomach and can affect the esophagus, which means more burping. You can try an over-the-counter antacid, but if discomfort happens often, talk to your doctor.
What Medical Conditions Cause Burping?
Dr. Raval says acid reflux is, by far, the most common medical condition that causes excessive burping. There’s also a medical condition known as aerophagia, which happens when people habitually swallow air.
“In general, burping is normal and does not cause problems by itself. Honestly, if burping becomes bothersome or it affects your day-to-day life for months at a time, just come in to be seen. Some especially worrisome symptoms would include burping with associated weight loss, abdominal pain or trouble swallowing. If you notice these, it’s time to see your doctor,” Dr. Raval says.
Why Can Some People Burp the ABC’s?
Did you know there are two types of burps? Dr. Raval says they are called supragastric and gastric burps. Gastric belching is the normal way of burping with the burped air coming out from inside the stomach. Supragastric simply means the burp came from someplace above the stomach.
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“If you ever run into someone who can burp the ABC’s, they are swallowing air, holding it in their esophagus and then forcing it back through the upper throat to make noises. These are the people who can make themselves burp,” Dr. Raval says.