A burp or belch can help ease an upset stomach. But if it happens often, it can be a sign of a health problem. If you burp a lot, it's probably time to find out why.
Why Does It Happen?
When you swallow your food, it goes through a tube called your esophagus and into your stomach. There your body uses acid, bacteria, and chemicals called enzymes to break it down into nutrients it uses for energy.
If you swallow air along with your food or if you drink something like a soda or beer that has bubbles in it, those gases can come back up through your esophagus. That's a burp.
What Causes It?
Carbonated beverages and swallowing air are the most common reasons people burp. Most of the time, that gas doesn't make it to your stomach. Instead it stays trapped in your esophagus until it comes back up.
You're more likely to swallow air and burp if you:
- Chew gum
- Eat too quickly
- Suck on hard candies
- Have dentures that don't fit right
Foods with a lot of fat or oil in them can cause heartburn. This also can make you burp. So can drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
When Is It a Problem?
Burping as many as four times after a meal is normal. But some illnesses can make you burp a lot more than that:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sometimes called acid reflux, happens when acid in your stomach flows back into your esophagus and causes heartburn. If you have this only occasionally, you can treat it with over-the-counter medicines. But if you have it a lot, you may need to make changes in your diet or take prescription drugs.
- Indigestion, also called dyspepsia, causes pain or discomfort in your upper belly. It can come with belching, bloating, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting.
- Gastritis happens when the lining of your stomach is irritated.
- Helicobacter pylori is a kind of bacteria that can cause an infection in your stomach and lead to ulcers.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also cause belly cramps, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation.
How Can I Stop Burping?
If you're concerned about how much you burp, talk with your doctor. She might have some suggestions to help keep it from happening. She also may run tests to look for signs of a health problem.
If no medical issue is causing you to burp, you might try some of these:
- Eat or drink more slowly. You're less likely to swallow air.
- Don't eat things like broccoli, cabbage, beans, or dairy products. They can lead to gas in your stomach or intestines and make you burp.
- Stay away from soda and beer.
- Don't chew gum.
- Stop smoking. Your doctor will give you lots of reasons to do this, but it also can help cut down on how much you burp.
- Take a walk after eating. A bit of exercise can help your digestion.
- Take an antacid.