Belching and Excessive Bloating
Burping or belching is something that just about everyone experiences now and then. In some cultures in Southeast Asia, belching is considered to be acceptable, and even is taken as a sign that the meal just consumed was very much enjoyed. In other countries, however, especially those in Western cultures, burping is considered bad manners and is very socially inappropriate.
Belching, along with passing gas (known as flatulence) are actually normal things for your body to do. They help in relieving any bloated feeling that might be experienced after a meal or at other times during the day. Drinking soda can bring on burping, too.
However, if your burping becomes more excessive and insistent in nature (your family members and friends will let you know), and if it begins affecting your daily interactions and activities, the reasons should be explored and the condition should be properly managed.
The Definition of Burping or Belching
The medical term for belching is eructation. A belching definition would include the fact that it occurs when excess gas or air from your gastrointestinal tract travels up through the esophagus and is expelled through your mouth. It is often accompanied by sounds or odors, caused by air vibrating.
Definition of Bloating
When you’re bloated, your abdomen feels full and you have gas accumulated in your abdomen. It is sometimes used to mean abdominal distention, but they are not exactly the same thing. Bloating is a reported feeling of abdominal bloating, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that your abdomen is actually distended.
The Definition of Flatulence
Many people refer to flatulence as farting, and it does share things in common with belching. Rather than the gas passing through your mouth, however, it passes from the anus. Gas may build up in your intestines, which makes you feel bloated or full. Passing gas is the most common and effective way to relieve the discomfort.
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How does Belching Happen?
It seems like burping is quite simple, but several body parts act in coordination, in order that the process may occur.
First, your larynx must be closed so that no liquid or food particles returning with air from your stomach can enter the lungs. That would cause aspiration. When you swallow, you close the larynx by voluntarily raising it.
While your larynx is raised up, the relaxed lower and upper esophageal sphincter results in air being allowed to pass through from your stomach through the esophagus and it is expulsed through your mouth.
While these acts occur simultaneously, your diaphragm descends, as it does when you breathe deeply, which increases abdominal pressure while the chest pressure is decreased.
This pressure shift between the chest and the diaphragm allows air to flow from the stomach to the esophagus, before exiting from the mouth.
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Causes of Excessive Gas
There are many things capable of causing bloating, burping or belching. It could be caused by the foods you’ve eaten, some specific medications you take or physiologic changes within your body.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Belching is a symptom often reported to physicians by patients who have GERD. They also experience heartburn and regurgitation. This happens because people with GERD often swallow large amounts of air, to help in relieving the unpleasant heartburn sensation.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
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Patients with this disorder swallow large amounts of air frequently, causing the arising of symptoms.
Incomplete Protein Digestion
Since much stomach acid will need to be properly broken down, a digestive system that is highly alkaline won’t allow it to do its job. Proteins that are not completely digested will ferment and cause gas in your gastrointestinal tract.
Some people with anxiety disorders swallow often, to ease their anxiety. It may cause belching as a side effect of this problem.
Your gallbladder is a small sac beneath your liver. It stores and regulates bile. Bile is a fluid-like substance the liver makes, to help your body to digest fat. When fatty foods pass through your duodenum on its way to the small intestine, your gallbladder releases bile in the proper amount to help you digest it. If your gallbladder is clogged with gall stones, uncomfortable and even severe bloating can result.
Difficulties in Breaking Down Sugars
As with proper digestion of proteins, your system can’t break down some sugary compounds properly. They stay in your gastrointestinal tract longer, fermenting and releasing gas. This leads to a bloated feeling.
Hard Candy and Chewing Gum
When you suck on hard candy or chew gum, you swallow more often than you usually do. When you swallow, it includes air.
When you smoke, you inhale excess air and swallow it. This causes too much air in your digestive tract.
Food and Drink that Triggers Belching
- Carbonated beverages and beer have lots of bubbles in their fizz.
- Asparagus, beans and onions
- Soy products like soy milk and tofu
- Processed foods
- Dairy products like butter, milk and cheese
- Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli
- Processed foods
- Whole grains
- Brussels and alfalfa sprouts
- Fruits including pears, peaches and apples
When you take prescribed antibiotics, it kills some good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. This can make bad bacteria that causes gas outnumber your good bacteria.
- Byetta and Metformin
These are common diabetes drugs that cause a lot of excess air in your digestive system, particularly in higher doses.
- Lactose intolerance
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastric dumping syndrome
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Celiac disease, where your intestines cannot absorb and fully digest some components of food
- Intestinal parasites
- Ovarian cysts
- Chrohn’s disease
- Bowel obstruction
- Cancers or tumors arising from the uterus, stomach, ovary or liver
How is a Belching Problem Evaluated?
- Simple intestinal or abdominal X-rays – Large air amounts can be seen easily in the stomach and intestine.
- MRI, Ultrasounds and CT scans – These are more defined and advanced than conventional x-rays.
- Gastric emptying studies – Radioactive substances are eaten by patients while a device is placed atop the abdomen. This measures how rapidly the stomach is able to empty contents.
Treatment, Management and Home Remedies
- Avoid using straws to drink. Drink straight from the glass, instead.
- Eat and drink slowly. Taking your time will allow you to swallow less air.
- Skip chewing gum and hard candy.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid trigger food and drink.
- Be active.
- Check your dentures – Swallowing too much air when you eat and drink may be worsened if you wear dentures.
- Check your drinking habits – Sip water if you’re anxious.
- Use OTC remedies including Simethicone.
- Charcoal supplements – Take them before you eat. They will help in the prevention of abdominal distention.
- Hold your knees to your chest or lie on your side to help gas pass.
- Use fresh or dried parsley, to help in lessening excess gas.
- Cool any hot drinks to make them only warm, before you drink them.
- Ginger provides quick relief for belching. You can use powdered ginger capsules right before you eat your meals. Alternately, you can eat a small bit of fresh ginger root. Ginger also makes a very tasty tea.
- Cardamom tea allows your digestive system to work better, and produce less gas. Just add a teaspoon of cardamom in one cup of water and boil for about 10 minutes. Drink this hot tea with meals, instead of coffee.
- Chamomile tea has been used for decades for stomach aches and excess gas. It helps relieve burping.
Episodes of flatulence, belching and bloating may be transient, and can resolve themselves over time. However, if they feel troublesome and you experience other symptoms, you need to speak to your physician.
These bloated symptoms include, among others, chest pain, weight loss, fever, bloody stools, severe & recurrent abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or changes in your appetite.
Even though abdominal symptoms can cause embarrassment, don’t let that keep you from getting help. They could be symptoms of serious underlying medical conditions.
Treatments for belching are available, so speak to your physician to make sure you get the right one.