Having a few occasional burps after a full meal is normal. But if it happens frequently and way more than usual, it could be a sign of health problems.
Burping is the body’s way of getting rid of excess air in your digestive tract. So why does it happen? When you swallow food, it goes through your oesophagus and into the stomach. The acid, bacteria, and chemicals inside your stomach will break the food down into nutrients and convert it into energy. So when you swallow air along with food and drinks, those gasses can come back up – this happens, for example, after drinking a carbonated beverage or beer.
Swallowing air is the most common reason for burping, but there are many more possible causes that you might not be aware of. Read on to find out the other possible causes for burping!
What causes us to burp?
Besides swallowing an excessive amount of air when you are eating or drinking, there are some medical conditions that include burping as a symptom. Some of these may require you to get immediate medical attention.
- Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD): Gastrointestinal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux, is a disorder that causes acid from the stomach to flow upwards into the oesophagus, causing heartburn. This can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, but if the symptoms of heartburn are frequent and severe, it is best to get it checked.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder that affects the digestive system. Certain foods can trigger it, so can stress, anxiety, and infections. Symptoms of IBS include burping, constipation, and abdominal pain. While there is no cure for this medical condition, a change in lifestyle and medications can help reduce the symptoms.
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection: Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that causes infections in the stomach. It could sometimes cause inflammation that allows acid to eat away at the digestive tract, leading to the formation of stomach ulcers. You may feel a burning sensation in your stomach, burping, bloating, or abdominal pain.
How can I stop burping?
Here are a few lifestyle changes that will help reduce burping:
- Eat and drink slowly: Taking your time can help you swallow less air.
- Don’t smoke: When you inhale cigarette smoke, you are also swallowing air.
- Talk a walk after eating: Physical activities will help with digestion.
- Avoid chewing gum: Chewing gum or even sucking on hard candy causes you to swallow air.
- Take an antacid: This helps neutralise stomach acid and prevent heartburn.
If you experience excessive burping that does not stop after a week, talk to a doctor. It could be an underlying medical condition that needs immediate care. This is especially true when it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain or heartburn. A specialist can determine the most effective treatments and medications for you.