Belching, also referred to as burping, is an instinctive action with which the excess amount of gas trapped inside the stomach is forcefully expelled through the mouth and a weird sound is produced as a result. People of all age groups starting from small babies to adults belch once or twice either during or after eating. This is an absolutely normal phenomenon and there is nothing to worry about it.
Just before belching, you sense a little bit of abdominal discomfort and you feel relieved after expulsion of the gas. However, if it occurs continuously and that too when you are on an empty stomach, then it is a sign of chronic belching. Some typical symptoms are burning sensation in the chest and throat, burping with a bad odor and nausea. All these are indications that there is some underlying problem, which is triggering frequent belching.
Chronic belching is often closely associated with aerophagia, a condition that arises due to swallowing of too much of air. It can happen due to many different reasons. Large amount of air is being ingested when you eat or drink very fast. Those who have the habit of talking a lot with food in the mouth also swallow air unknowingly. If you have the habit of drinking carbonated beverages with your meals, then additional amount of carbon dioxide gas from the bubbles of the drink reaches your stomach which has to be eliminated with repeated burping.
Air entering the stomach may result from mouth breathing while sleeping or staying awake. When you are nervous or anxious, then you swallow up lots of air while eating and speaking. Drinking with a straw or having a chewing gum could be the culprit behind this problem. The air thus swallowed does not pass on to the small bowel. Rather, it enters the esophagus, travels up to the mouth and is belched out.
Belching is also triggered when excess amount of gas is produced inside the stomach. Chronic belching after eating could be because of eating wrong foods. Consumption of certain foods like beans, pulses, cabbage, cauliflowers, fatty foods, spicy foods, etc. tend to increase stomach gas production. Those who have lactose intolerance start belching after taking milk and dairy products. A number of gastrointestinal problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, constipation, gastroparesis, stomach ulcer, dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, gallbladder problem, etc. result in accumulation of stomach gas and cause chronic belching.
Treatment and Prevention
When you have chronic belching, then it has to be evaluated by a doctor. The exact cause is diagnosed with the help of physical examination, medical history, eating habits and lifestyle. There are two important aspects of treating chronic belching. One is to decrease the production of stomach gas and the other one is to prevent swallowing of air.
The level of stomach gas is usually reduced with the help of medicines that have simethicone as a component. These medicines reduce the size of the gas bubbles inside the digestive system and thus the belching reflex is controlled. When excessive belching is accompanied by burning sensation in chest and throat, then stomach acid has to be brought down with antacids.
Antacids have the ability to neutralize the stomach acids and control its effects. Both these medicines are also available over the counter but it is always advisable that you consult your doctor before taking them. Other medicines are also used for the treatment of other causes of chronic belching. A laxative is an effective medicine for treating constipation and regularizing bowel movement. Antidiarrheal medicines and fiber supplements are often used for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Some of the gallbladder problems are resolved with dietary changes and non-surgical treatments but a few patients may have to undergo surgery.
Some changes have to be brought about in the habits, diet and lifestyle for the prevention of chronic belching.
A few helpful tips in this regard are as follows:
- Eat your food slowly. Take small bites and chew it properly in order to avoid swallowing of air. Do not talk or keep your mouth open while eating.
- Do not drink carbonated beverages along with your meal. It will be better if you avoid it altogether because it increases accumulation of gas inside the stomach. For the same reason, you should avoid having a chewing gum and drinking with a straw.
- Stay away from beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, chocolates, fried foods, spicy foods, sugary foods, etc. as all these foods can aggravate the existing problem.
- Those who have food intolerance are advised to avoid that particular food just to get permanent relief from the problem of belching.
- Avoid eating too much of food at a time. More food means more trapped gas inside the stomach. Therefore, keep the meals small in size but make sure you have them after regular intervals of time.
- Keep your mind free from anxiety and stress. You can try some relaxation techniques for this purpose. Light exercising is also an excellent way of relaxing both mind and body.
If you have a belching problem, there is no reason to assume that something is seriously wrong with you. However, it is also true that you should not ignore the problem. Consult a doctor, take the medicines prescribed on time and follow the preventive measures in order to cure the problem as fast as possible.