Skip to content

Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Font Size

Gas, Bloating, and Burping - Topic Overview

Gas (flatus), burping, and bloating are all normal conditions. Gas is made in the stomach and intestines as your body breaks down food into energy. Gas and burping may sometimes be embarrassing. Bloating, which is a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, can make you uncomfortable. Although many people think that they pass gas too often or have too much gas, it is rare to have too much gas. Changing what you eat and drink can sometimes cut down on gas and relieve discomfort caused by gas.

Belching or burping (eructation) is the voluntary or involuntary, sometimes noisy release of air from the stomach camera.gif or esophagus camera.gif through the mouth. Burping 3 or 4 times after eating a meal is normal and is usually caused by swallowing air. Other causes of burping include nervous habits or other medical conditions, such as an ulcer or a gallbladder problem. In some cultures, a person may belch loudly after eating to show appreciation for the meal.

All people pass gas, but some people produce more gas than others. It is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times a day. Although this may embarrass or annoy you, excess intestinal gas usually is not caused by a serious health condition.

Common causes of gas and bloating include:

  • Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as flatus. Excessive air swallowing may cause hiccups.
  • Foods and beverages. The amount of gas that different foods cause varies from person to person.
  • Lactose intolerance. A person who cannot easily digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products can have both gas and bloating as well as other symptoms.
  • Constipation. This can cause bloating but generally does not increase gas. For more information, see the topic Constipation, Age 11 and Younger or Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
  • Medicines or nutritional supplements. Both prescription and nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements, can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
  • A medical condition, such as a bowel obstruction or Crohn's disease.
  • Changes in hormone levels. It is common for women to have bloating right before their periods, because their bodies retain fluid.
    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Woman eating pizza
    How it starts, and how to stop it.
    man with indigestion
    Get lifestyle and diet tips.
     
    woman shopping for heartburn relief
    Medication options.
    man with heartburn
    Symptoms of both.
     
    digestive health
    Slideshow
    Heartburn or Heart Attack
    Article
     
    heartburn
    Article
    Top 10 Heartburn Foods
    Video
     
    Is it Heartburn or Gerd
    Video
    digestive myths
    Slideshow
     
    Extreme Eats
    Slideshow
    graphic of esophageal area
    Article