Burping is a process by much gas returns from your food pipe. This may happen when you have taken a gas-based drink (such as a soda or beer), or if you have swallowed air while eating. Burping is a natural activity to stabilise a stomach upset. But, it is not normal for it to occur frequently. What happens if you are burping too very often? You may need to know why excessive burping happens and what to do when it occurs.

Food you eat gets down through your food pipe – which is also known as esophagus. Once it reaches your stomach, the active process of digestion starts. This involves secretion of enzymes and acids with the help of a few bacteria. But, if you have also taken-in some air or gas with the foods you eat, it soon returns and causes a burp. Burping hence is not a medical condition. But, burping very frequently or excessively is not healthy.

Air can enter into your food pipe through many possible ways. The most common ways include consumption of carbonated fluids or drinks (like, beer or soda), smoking, eating very fast, chewing a gum, intake of alcohol or caffeine-based drinks, etc. Heartburn also features as a common reason for inflow of air into your food pipe. So, you are advised to eat lesser amounts of foods, especially those rich in oils or fats. It has also been observed that wearing ill-fitted dental prosthetics or dentures may also lead to letting air inside your stomach. A few people who suck-on hard-boiled sugar candies have also reported such problems.

Medical conditions that may cause excessive burping

If you burp soon after completing your meal, it is considered as a very good sign. So, three or four burps a day is considered a healthy symptom. But, burping a lot more times may be due to intake of soda or other carbonated drinks. Burping too often can also be a sign of an infection caused by a bacterial strand called Helicobacter pylori (H-pylori). This infection shows up as nausea, abdominal discomforts, decrease in your appetite, gas formation, etc. This can become a serious condition if you experience symptoms such as blood in your stools, difficulties in swallowing foods, acute flashes of pain in your abdomen, etc.

Other reasons that can lead to excessive burping also include gastritis – this condition results in repair of the walls of your tummy. Key signs of gastritis are bloating of tummy, dyspepsia, blackened stools, etc. Excessive burping can also be due to a few medical conditions.

Some of these conditions include –

Dyspepsia – This is a common medical condition; it is widely referred as indigestion. It shows up as a discomfort in the stomach – especially soon after taking your meal. Apart from belching (burping), the most common symptoms of this condition are pain in your stomach, nausea, flatulence or formation of gas, etc. Most people who experience indigestion have also reported an altered sense of taste in their mouth (often, a taste of excessive acidity) and a feeling of being full.

This condition can get triggered by intake of large quantities of alcohol or eating large amounts of food. In some cases, living with anxiety or stress can also trigger it.

Irritable bowel syndrome – IBS is a medical condition than can show up more among women than men. The root cause of this condition remains unclear, and hence is largely unknown. It can show up through signs such as gas formation, bloating of your stomach, discharge of stools with traces of mucus, etc. The signs of IBS may often be quite confusing. Its typical signs can easily be mistaken as those pertaining to other abdominal disorders. IBS can be treated by changing the foods you eat as well as by consuming probiotics. Your dietician may tell you not to eat processed or excessively fatty foods.

GERD – or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a disorder affecting your digestive system. It can lead to indigestion or heartburn. If these signs show up, food items or half-digested food-particles in your stomach may rush back through the food pipe. Intake of foods with excessive amounts of fats or smoking as well as intake of a few medications may worsen this condition.

Key signs of GERD include respiratory problems, difficulties to swallow foods, oral problems (such as repair of the enamel of your teeth), etc. Your doctor may advise you to minimize the size of your meals, properly chew the foods you eat, avoid wearing tight garments (especially those with a very tight fit) and raise your head on bed while sleeping.

Medications such as proton pump inhibiting drugs (which control the supply of proteins needed to produce gastric acids), h2 blocking medications (these help control the secretion of acids in your tummy) or antacids (that can help stabilize the acid balance in your digestive system; but, beware of prolonged use of these drugs as they can change calcium absorption patterns or may also store up excessive levels of magnesium).

Ways to stop excessive burping

As mentioned, the reasons why you are burping too often needs to be assessed. If no apparent medical condition is the reason behind this, you are advised not to take carbonated drinks such as beer or soda. You may also take a short walk soon after consuming your meal; such small workouts can enable a better digestion. Your doctor will tell you not to chew gums or consume a few vegetables such as beans, broccoli or cabbage.

For people with known hypersensitivities or allergies to dairy products, it is a good practice to refrain from taking milk or other milk-based food products. It is also a good habit to quit smoking; those who find it tough to completely stop the smoking habit, you can try cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. If burping is getting too frequent, you can try taking antacids.

A few types of antacids

Calcium carbonate and simethicone

Calcium carbonate and simethicone come together to form a combination drug which is used to bring relief from excessive formation of gas and excessive burping. Of this combinatorial drug, simethicone acts as an agent to break bubbles of gas in your abdomen while calcium carbonate helps lessen the quantum of acids in your tummy. This drug is likely to trigger difficulties in passing stools (constipation); you are advised to talk to your doctor if this side effect persists for a longer span of time. If you experience other side effects such as vomiting, nausea, weariness, etc. you may need to take medical help without delay. You may need to tell your doctor if your clinical history includes conditions such as hypercalcemia (a pronounced presence of calcium in your body), drying of mouth due to loss of water, etc. It is also equally important to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing a baby.

Aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate

Another widely used antacid is also a combination drug. This is made of two substances – namely, aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate. This is also an antacid used to stabilise acid balance in the tummy. It can be used for the treatment of sourness in your tummy, indigestion or dyspepsia as well as heartburns. You may need to keep your doctor informed if you are consuming a diet with low salt content or if you have a few abdominal conditions such as peptic ulcers. The most common side effects this combinatorial drug can trigger include blackened stool, difficulties in discharge of stools,etc. In some instances, people have reported a pain in their upper abdomen or tummy, vomiting, nausea as well as pain while urinating.

Magnesium hydroxide

This drug helps treat conditions like heartburns, sour tummy as well as dyspepsia or indigestion. Its main use however is to bring relief from difficulties experienced while passing stools. It falls under a family of drugs known as osmotic laxatives. It may cause loosening of stools or may trigger diarrhea. Other possible reactions include increase in the share of magnesium in your body. This may show up as weariness, mood shifts, arrhythmia, etc. This drug is unlikely to trigger acute side effects. But, if you observe side effects such as itchiness, inflammation of facial parts or oral organs and breathing troubles, you are advised to seek medical help as soon as possible.

If you are in the US, you are advised to call 911; if you are a resident of Canada, you need to get in touch with a local poison control center on an emergency basis. You may need to tell your treating doctor if you have medical conditions or a clinical history of renal dysfunction. As this drug can lessen the rate of absorption of a few drugs (such as quinolone genre of antibiotics, azole family of antifungals, etc.), you are advised to tell your doctor about the drugs you are already consuming or if you are currently pursuing other treatment plans.

In general, you can try one of these approaches to minimize the signs associated with the most common cause for excessive burping – i.e., indigestion or dyspepsia. You can refrain from eating too soon and also avoid eating by keeping your mouth open; also, say no to late night dinners – especially those cooked with abundant amounts of spices. However, if you experience severe signs such as traces of blood while vomiting, spells of pain in the lower or top parts of your stomach, discharge of darkened stools, etc. – it is time to consult a doctor.

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