Causes and remedies for excessive belching
By Kimberly Blaker
Belching, or burping, is a bodily process that helps expel a build-up of gas from the digestive system.
Some people view it as rude or embarrassing, while others find it amusing. Some even consider it a show of appreciation for good food or drink. Regardless of your personal take on burping, it’s a normal, healthy function, that all of us do an average of three to six times after each meal.
Still, if you find yourself burping excessively, it may cause you concern. A variety of causes of gas buildup can lead to the need to belch. Even though excessive burping may be frustrating, it’s most often a result of lifestyle factors that can easily be remedied.
1. Swallowing extra air
One of the most common causes of excessive burping is taking too much air into your digestive system. The excess air must then be expelled. There are several possible causes of swallowing more air than your stomach can handle. These include loose dentures, hiccups, eating or drinking too quickly, using a straw, smoking, chewing gum, sucking on hard candies, and talking while eating.
Remedy: Pay attention to what you were doing before the burping started. Take notes to look for a pattern, and see if decreasing the behavior resolves it. Also, take your time when eating and drinking at meals, and consider going for a short walk afterward to help move the gas through your system.
2. Eating gassy foods or drinks
Some foods are harder for your body to digest because of their high levels of starch, sugar, or fiber. Consuming these can cause a buildup of gas in your digestive system.
Some of the most common gas-inducing foods include: beans, broccoli, cabbage, lentils, onions, dairy, peas, bananas, raisins and whole wheat bread.
Carbonated drinks, like soda and beer, release carbon dioxide bubbles into your system. So these also can increase belching. A side effect of some medications is burping as well.
Remedy: Keep a food diary to track everything you eat, along with the frequency and timing of your burps. This way, you can see any patterns between the foods you’re eating and the need to release trapped gas. Then reduce or eliminate your consumption of gas-producing foods and drinks.
3. Digestive issues
Because burping is the release of gas out of your mouth from your digestive system, digestive issues are often the cause. Some of the most common associated problems are:
• Acid reflux or GERD: Stomach acid rises back toward the esophagus and causes heartburn. This leads to an increase in swallowing and the potential for air to be taken in. Over-the-counter medications are available to treat it, though some of these also cause burping.
• Hiatal hernia: This type of hernia involves part of the upper stomach pushing through an opening in the diaphragm. Hiatal hernias are relatively common after the age of 50, most often causing no symptoms. Hence, people are unaware of the hernia. When the hernia causes burping, lifestyle changes, and medication usually resolve the symptom. Only rarely is surgery required for a hiatal hernia.
• Lactose intolerance: This is an inability of the body to digest lactose in milk that results in bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, which lead to burping. Avoidance of dairy products is the easiest way to prevent symptoms.
• Peptic ulcers: These are sores on the lining of the stomach, esophagus, and intestines caused by H. pylori bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) or irritation from pain relievers. The increase in acid that eats away at the lining can cause excess gas and belching. Ulcers may heal on their own with lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol, controlling stress, eating a healthy diet, avoiding milk, and reducing the use of pain relievers. Some medications can treat ulcers or reduce stomach acid irritation.
• Irritable bowel syndrome: Also known as IBS, this is a disorder affecting the large intestine resulting in digestive issues including gas and bloating that can lead to burping. IBS is a chronic condition and requires long-term management of diet, lifestyle, stress, and possibly the use of medication.
• Fructose malabsorption: This is when the body is unable to process foods or drinks containing fructose, leading to increased gas production or bloating. To resolve it, read labels and eliminate anything containing fructose from your diet.
Remedy: In these cases, burping is a symptom of a more significant problem. By addressing the underlying cause with medication or altering your diet under the guidance of a medical professional, you should experience a reduction in gas production.
When dealing with excessive belching, remember that generally, it’s temporary, harmless, and can quickly be dealt with by making minor changes in your lifestyle. But if an increase in belching continues for more than a couple of weeks, is accompanied by other symptoms like severe abdominal pain, or affects your quality of life, contact your doctor. It’s best to make sure nothing more serious is going on with your body that’s causing your burping.