Burping: All You Need to Know

Burping is the act of discharging excess swallowed air from the stomach through the mouth. Burping happens most when the stomach expands or extends due to internal pressure. Another name for burping is belching. Belching can also be referred to as eructation.

Burping
Photo Credit: Medical News Today

WHAT CAUSES BELCHING?

Remember that burping happens when there is excess air in the stomach or even in the esophagus. The following are the reasons air or gas gets trapped in the stomach in the first place.

  • Drinking or eating too fast
  • Talking while eating
  • Taking carbonated beverages
  • Anxiety
  • Even babies also belch or burp after breastfeeding to release the excess gas taken in during the feeding process.

Note, however, that there is every possibility to burp even when the stomach is not overloaded with gas.  Burping can become a means of managing abdominal discomfort or a habit. Burping cannot take care of abdominal discomfort arising from other causes.

BURPING AND AEROPHAGIA

Aerophagia means swallowing air, whether voluntarily or not. Air can be swallowed under the following circumstances:

  • Combining eating and talking
  • Smoking
  • Drinking with straw
  • Breathing with the nose
  • Chewing gum
  • Using dentures that fit poorly
  • Sucking hard candies
  • Hyperventilating

FOODS AND BURPING

Burping can be influenced by certain foods. Foods that will likely make someone belch more would include:

  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Banana
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Lentils
  • Broccoli
  • Wheat bread
  • Peas
  • Raisin
  • Cauliflower

CONDITIONS THAT INFLUENCE BURPING

Belching might not just start on its own. There are certain health conditions that encourage frequency of burping. Even with the fact that burping is just our body’s natural way of responding to discomfort in the stomach, other things can still encourage its frequency. Such medical conditions include:

  • Gastroparesis: This is a condition characterized by a delay in emptying of the bowels.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): This is a situation whereby acid flows upward from the stomach to the esophagus. GERD on its own is a disorder.
  • Gastritis: A person is said to have gastritis when the lining of the stomach suffers some inflammation.
  • Sorbitol and Fructose mal-absorption: This is a condition in which sorbitol and fructose are not properly digested in the stomach.
  • Peptic ulcers: This is a situation where there are sores on the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Helicobacter pylori: The presence of bacteria in the stomach can also cause frequent burping.
  • Lactose intolerance: Lactose is one of the elements in milk and other dairy products. Sometimes, the body system can be unfriendly with lactose.
  • Pancreatic insufficiency: When the pancreas cannot secrete adequate enzymes to aid digestion, there is bound to be some gases in the stomach which will have to be expelled via belching.
  • Celiac disease: Snacks rich in flour such as bread contain gluten. If the stomach is not tolerant to gluten, belching can be induced.
  • Dumping syndrome: If one has the dumping syndrome, food items consumed will be excreted even before complete digestion is complete. Burping can happen as a result of this.

IS BURPING OR BELCHING AN EMERGENCY SITUATION?

Normally, burping should not cause alarm. But if one belches or burps too frequently or excessively, there is a need to consult a health care worker. If the belch does not relieve the prevalent abdominal discomfort, there is also a need to get medical assistance as soon as possible.

HOW TO TREAT BELCHING/BURPING

Since belching, on a normal day, is not a disease, it might not need medical treatment. The excessiveness or frequency of burps might warrant the attention of a doctor to diagnose prevalent conditions that might induce excessive burping. Let’s explore some ways to handle the condition.

Home remedy: You can treat yourself at home if you feel your burps are excessive and too often. This you could do by lying on your side or contorting your body for your knees to meet your chest. Remain in the position till the air is expelled.

You should also try as much as you can to avoid taking carbonated drinks, eating or drinking fast, as well as chewing gum. Failure to observe this might worsen the situation.

Taking medicine for burps: If you are diagnosed to have a belching disorder, you can take some medication such as acarbose, laxatives like sorbitol and lactulose as well as pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin.

Note however that excessive pain medications might cause gastritis. This can even aggravate the burps.

If burping is beyond the normal rate, the doctor might recommend some physical examination and otherwise to make a full diagnosis. Abdominal X-ray, MRI scan, Maldigestion test, CT scan, hydrogen, and methane test, as well as ultrasound scan,  will be carried out.

CONSEQUENCES OF UNTREATED BURPING

Because belching is not a disease, it naturally does not need treatment and so can be left untreated. But if burping is just a symptom of a more serious health condition, the situation can deteriorate.

PREVENTING BURPING/BELCHING

Just avoid foods and activities that cause excessive gas in the stomach. This can prevent burping, to a large extent. Learn to eat slowly.

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