Releasing gas from the digestive tract mostly involving the oesophagus and stomach is known as burping. Also called as flatus or passing gas, this is a natural phenomenon but can be embarrassing for the individual and sometimes might be uncomfortable for others. Excessive burping might cause an interference in daily activities and cause embarrassment in social settings. This condition mostly does not signify that the person has any serious ailment and can be managed by making simple ana d healthy lifestyle changes.
Most cases of burping are due to the swallowing of excess air. This leads to accumulation of the air in the oesophagus and does not let it reach the stomach. Burping is thus the body’s mechanism of removing the excess air from the upper digestive tract.
burping also known as burping and eructation and mostly occurs when the stomach distends, which basically means expansion of the stomach because of excessive swallowed air. Burping eases the stomach by releasing the swallowed air and reducing the expansion of the stomach.
One of the major causes of burping is swallowing of excess air. The main reasons why excess air may be swallowed are:
- Drinking carbonated and aerated beverages, anxiety issues, eating food or drinking in a fast pace etc.
- Children and babies often swallow larger than normal amounts of air without realising that they have done so. That is the reason why babies are made to burp after breastfeeding to remove the excess air swallowed during the process.
- Some people might also experience burping when the stomach is not filled with air. It becomes a method for decreasing abdominal discomfort and turns into a habit. When this becomes a habit, people might try to obtain relief from other ailments causing discomfort in the abdomen.
Aerophagia is the excessive swallowing of air voluntarily or involuntarily. This can occur in one of the following situations:
Anxiety attack, inhaling air through the nose, Chewing gum, drinking beverages through a straw, hyperventilating, smoking, wearing poor fitting dentures, talking and eating simultaneously, sucking hard candies etc.
Foods of a certain type can also aid burping. Some foods are known to cause frequent burping. These are mostly alcohol, Sugar, Starchy foods, carbonated drinks etc. that cause gas. Most common of these include Beans, Peas, Bananas, Lentils, Raisins, Onions, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Whole wheat bread, Cabbage etc.
Usage of different medicines may also lead to burping. Certain medications cause conditions that lead to burping. Some of these medicines are:
Acarbose, a medicine for Type 2 diabetes, Certain laxatives like Sorbitol and Lactulose and many painkillers like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. Excessive usage of painkillers can lead to gastritis which can cause burping.
Medical Conditions are also sometimes responsible for burping. Some of these problems are:
Peptic Ulcers: In this condition, sores develop on the oesophagus, upper portion of the small intestine and the stomach. One of the symptoms of this disease is acid reflux which might lead to burping. Complications might include bleeding and blockage of the food passage because of the obstruction caused by the swollen surroundings of the present ulcer. Treatment includes stomach acid suppressants like antacids in combination with antibiotics. In the case of individuals who indulge in smoking and have been suffering from peptic ulcers, there is a risk of the ulcer recurring.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): In this disorder, the acid produced in the stomach flows to the oesophagus or into the food pipe and causes issues such as burping. GERD might be due to multiple causes. This disease can be complicated or uncomplicated. Symptoms of uncomplicated GERD might include nausea, heartburn and regurgitation. Some complications of GERD include inflammation of throat and lungs, ulcers in the oesophagus, asthma, fluid collection in sinuses, cough etc. The treatment included over the counter medications, healthy lifestyle changes, proper diet, prescription drugs like antacids and sometimes surgery.
Gastritis: It is a disorder that leads to inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Occasional symptoms of gastritis include indigestion, bloating, burping and loss of appetite. The treatment of the disease differs according to the causes. Home remedies may help in treating the condition but usually do not help in attacking the underlying cause. Complications rarely arise from acute gastritis. Individuals with acute gastritis recover fully without any complications. In the case of chronic gastritis, the patient recovers completely in the case early treatment is provided, else some complications like bleeding ulcers, gastric cancers, renal problems might develop.
Gastroparesis: In this condition, the stomach walls become weak. This disease results in improper churning and grinding of the food in the stomach which leads to improper function of emptying of food into the intestine from the stomach. The gastric emptying test is conducted to diagnose the problem. Sometimes an endoscopy is also performed to rule out the chance of a tumour which might be causing a physical obstruction in the functions of the stomach. The treatment usually includes nutritional support, medicines that act as stimulants for the muscles to work, medicines for treating vomiting and nausea and sometimes surgery.
Fructose/sorbitol malabsorption: Some people have a problem in digesting the carbohydrates fructose and sorbitol. Fructose high foods like watermelon, mangoes, cherries, pears etc. should be avoided. Consumption of large quantities of fructose at once should also be avoided. Sorbitol is mostly found in fruits such as pears, plums, nectarines, apples, apricots, blackberries etc. People with this problem should check the ingredients list of the foods they consume properly to check the amounts of these substances.
Helicobacter Pylori (H.pylori): This is a bacteria that is responsible for causing stomach infections that can result in burping. It generally causes chronic stomach inflammation. Some symptoms include nausea, bloating, frequent burping, abdominal pain on an empty stomach etc. Treatment includes a combination of antibiotics. Around half the world’s population is infected with this bacterium, hence its prevention is difficult.
Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance refers to the inability of certain people to completely digest the sugar in dairy products. This leads to diarrhoea, flatulence and bloating. This condition is mostly harmless, though the symptoms can be uncomfortable. People with lactose intolerance have to reduce the dairy component from their diets. They have to look for other sources to include the nutrients they are missing in their diets.
Celiac disease: This is a condition wherein the person is intolerant to gluten, which is present in flour rich foods like bread.
Dumping Syndrome: This is a condition where the stomach empties the contents without proper digestion.
Pancreatic Insufficiency: This occurs when the pancreas is unable to secrete the enzymes required for proper digestion of the food.
Excessive gas and burping are treated by gastroenterologists. Dieticians also help with specialised diets and identifying the food causing gas related problems. Burping alone is not a cause for worry unless it happens frequently.
If a person’s stomach is distended for a very long time and burping does not help relieve the distention, they should seek medical attention.
Burping can also be a symptom for many other diseases or conditions, such as:
Heartburn: Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest, the symptoms may get worse after eating a large meal or when lying down. Heartburn occurs alongside many gastrointestinal conditions or gas problems. burping is one of the least severe symptoms of heartburn.
Acid Reflux or GERD: Acid reflux takes place when the stomach content moves backwards towards the oesophagus. It is a very common condition related to digestion. It causes symptoms like burping, stomach ache and even heartburn.
Indigestion: Indigestion is a very common problem which happens to everyone. It is the pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. It causes bloating, burping and other gastrointestinal conditions. Indigestion itself can be a symptom of many diseases.
Hiatal Hernia: Hiatal Hernia happens when the upper part of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm, into the chest area. burping is a common symptom for hiatal hernia.
Peptic Ulcers: Peptic Ulcers are sores in the lining of the oesophagus, the stomach or the small intestine. These are very painful for the person to handle. Gas problems can be one of the causes for Peptic Ulcers and vice versa.
Giardiasis: Giardiasis is the infection in the small intestines caused by a parasite known as Giardia. Giardiasis spread through contact or through eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water.
Celiac Disease: Celiac disease is a digestive disorder caused by an unusual reaction to the gluten in food. People with celiac disease are strictly ordered to avoid food with gluten.
Intestinal Obstruction: If something is blocking the pathway in your intestine, the food or fluids are unable to pass through. This causes burping, bloating and cramps in the stomach.
Stomach Cancer: Stomach cancer is also known as gastric cancer. It takes place when the gastric lining in the stomach starts developing cancer cells.
Oesophagus Cancer: Oesophagus cancer happens when a tumour is formed in the oesophagus, which moves the food from the throat to the stomach.
Acute Pancreatitis: Acute pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, causing pain and swelling in the abdomen, burping and nausea.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS causes bloating and gas, cramping, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain.
H. Pylori Infection: Helicobacter Pylori is a very common bacteria that causes ulcers in the stomach and stomach infection. H. Pylori can also be the reason for burping and other gas problems.
Acute Cholecystitis: Acute Cholecystitis is the inflammation of the gallbladder. In a serious condition, the gallbladder could rupture which is a medical emergency. Cholecystitis is mainly caused due gallstones that block the common bile duct.
If any of the symptoms for the given diseases or conditions appear alongside constant or excessive burping. It is advisable to see a doctor and take medications before the problem gets worse.
Burping does not really require any treatment unless it gets excessive to stop the problem from spreading further.
Excessive burping can be self-treated by lying on the sides, holding a knee to chest position till the gas passes, avoiding drinking and eating in a hurry, not having carbonated drinks and avoiding chewing gum.
In case of excessive burping, seeing a doctor is advisable. Mentioning any other symptoms is a must as it helps the doctor in recognising the problem in a better way. The doctor asks about the patterns of burping and for any type of food that causes it for you. The doctor may conduct tests such as X-rays of the abdomen and gastric emptying studies. The doctor will also conduct MRI scans, CT scans, maldigestion tests, ultrasound tests and hydrogen and methane tests.
Normal burping does not have any consequences, however, if excessive burping is not prevented or treated it may become the cause for other problematic diseases or condition such as heartburn or pancreatitis. To avoid burping try to cut down on eating food items that may cause gas for you. To prevent burping, one should:
1. Everyone should consume their meals slowly and not quickly. Chewing before swallowing the food is important to avoid burping. Eating slowly improves the overall digestion.
2. Avoid any hard candy or chewing gums. Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol may be present in the gum or the candy which gives people gas. When you chew gum you more than often swallow air which might result in burping.
3. Avoiding aerated and carbonated drinks are necessary if you want to avoid burping. These drinks have gas bubbles or air bubbles in them which results in excessive burping.
4. Taking probiotic supplements to help against burping is also a way to prevent it.
5. Anxiety-inducing situations cause hyperventilation which results in fast breathing which may cause burping.
6. Avoid food items or drinks that may cause gas in you or make burping happen more often.
7. Avoid smoking cigarettes as you inhale excess of air through your mouth while smoking.
8. If you wear dentures, make sure they are not loose as that would make swallowing food harder for you.
Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.