If you have excess air within your stomach, it often will come out as burps. The burp will generally smell like the food you have eaten, but sometimes they smell like rotten eggs. These are also called sulfur burps, and they are unpleasant and embarrassing, especially if you’re in a group of people.
The reason these burps smell bad is hydrogen sulfide, or H2S. Sulfur proteins in foods cause these types of burps, which smell like rotten eggs. The microbes in your intestine reduce the sulfur and digest the protein, which releases the gas.
People of any age can expel H2S when burping, especially pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, the process of digestion will slow down, and this could be why rotten egg burps are so common during this time.
If your sulfur burping is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, you should see your physician. These are the initial symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Fortunately, there are some effective ways you can deal with these burps.
Rotten Egg Burps – Why do they Occur?
You might be wondering why you are plagued with these smelly sulfur burps and what you did to start them. Here are some fairly common reasons:
- Poor Eating Habits
Some eating habits may cause rotten egg burps. Eating protein and sugar-rich foods may be the cause. The larger your meal, the longer it will take your body to digest. This means that it remains in your small intestine and stomach for a longer time. That results in the accumulation of hydrogen sulfide in your gut, which causes expulsion of foul-smelling gases through gas and burping.
- Eating some specific Foods
Eating specific food types may leave you with rotten egg burps. To reduce their occurrence, cut down on your consumption of soy, peas, broccoli, beans, tomato, asparagus, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, dairy products, canned foods, eggs and red meat.
Avoid fruits like coconuts and bananas, and nuts like cashews. Some beverages like fizzy drinks, tea and coffee can make you feel gassy, too.
- Bacteria-Caused Rotten Egg Burps
Bacteria that produce sulfur, along with other microorganisms, use sulfur compounds in the food, and this produces hydrogen sulfide. This gives you rotten egg burps. These bacteria include:
- pylori bacteria may cause duodenal and gastric ulcers, bloating in the abdomen, chronic gastritis, smelly burps and heartburn. H. pylori infection is diagnosed through a urea breath test. It can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
- Giardia lamblia is a one-celled parasite. It may affect you through water or food, and leads to rotten egg burps, along with gas, diarrhea and bloating.
- The necessary, normal bacteria in your intestines can cause foul-smelling burps, too. When your body produces too much of this normal bacteria, it can lead to diarrhea, bloating, gas or rotten egg burps. This cause is called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- If you have an intolerance to lactose or malabsorption of fructose, you can experience gut bacteria problems, too. Some health problems like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease can limit effective digestion. This means there is more undigested food left for the sulfur-reducing bacteria to fully break down. This generates more H2S and thus, smelly burps.
- Gastrointestinal Infection
Infections in the gastrointestinal system are caused by parasites, and are among the leading causes of rotten egg burps. These infections can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, ulcers and abdominal pain. This type of infection spreads in oral – fecal transmission, unclean water or poor hygiene.
- Prescription Drugs
Some prescriptions can cause sulfur burping, especially if any of the medication ingredients contains any sulfur-based compounds.
- Other Causes
Anxiety and stress can cause burping, as can gastrointestinal symptoms like hernia or acid reflux.
If you have problems with your gall bladder, or if your gall bladder has been removed, this may lead to foul-smelling burps.
An empty colon can also cause rotten egg burps. It could be related to irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. This is relatively easy to treat though, so the symptoms can be controlled.
Getting Rid of Rotten Egg Burps
There are simple steps to take that will stop much smelly burping. If you suspect a health condition that has not yet been diagnosed, contact your physician.
- Drink plenty of Fluids
Drinking lots of fluids will help in your digestive process and keep you properly hydrated. To detox your gut naturally, use clear herbal teas. Drink warm water with lemon juice and honey added, in the morning. This boosts your digestion. Attempt to reduce your alcohol intake, and your intake of carbonated beverages.
- Eat the Right types of Foods
Cut out foods that contain sulfur, as much as you can. Select foods high in fiber, like fresh vegetables and whole grains. Eliminate processed and canned foods from your regular diet. Cut out foods rich in sugar, like cake, candy and chocolate.
- Pay Attention to Underlying Diseases
If you think you may have celiac disease, remove foods with gluten in them from your diet. This includes foods that include wheat, barley, rye, etc.
If you are fatigued, and suffer from low body temperature, bloody stools, bloating, diarrhea and nausea, along with rotten egg burps, this may be symptomatic of Crohn’s disease. Talk to a gastroenterologist, and he will perform the pertinent tests.
If you have had heartburn, peptic ulcer, stomach burning or gastric reflex previously, ask your gastroenterologist to give you a breath test for H. pylori. If the test comes back positive, you will be able to use antibiotics to clear up the problem.
Antibiotics are also helpful with rotten egg burps caused by other types of bacterial infections, including SIBO. A breath test is used to diagnose these other infections, too.
If your problem in burping is caused by gastroparesis, this means that your stomach empties too slowly. Confirmation of this condition is done with a gastric emptying test.
If your symptoms include loose, mucus-y stools, excessive gas or bloating, this may be symptomatic of Giardia parasite infection. A stool sample will be taken, and if the test comes back positive, you can be prescribed anti-parasitic drugs.
Treating gallstones by removing the gallbladder can cause rotten egg burps. Ultrasound testing is usually used to diagnose gallstones and other gallbladder issues.
- Take Medication Carefully
If your belching is caused by medications, speak with your physician about prescribing other treatments. Don’t stop taking any drug before you consult your physician first, though.
Speak with your physician about short-term medications like Pepto-Bismol™, or bismuth subsalicylate, which is a diarrhea remedy. This drug will bind to hydrogen sulfide within your gut, which allows for the elimination of excess sulfur and the embarrassing rotten egg burps.
Side effects of Pepto-Bismol™ include a colored tongue and black stools. Do not use it for longer than three weeks. In addition, it should not be used for children.