Okay, I admit it…I often struggle with excessive belching. It’s not the cutest and can be quite embarrassing! While my belching is usually benign, it is occasionally accompanied by reflux and indigestion. Do you suffer from excessive belching, too? Let’s dive into the root causes of excessive belching and learn my top 10 tips to get it under control.
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What is belching?
Belching AKA burping AKA eructation is the occurrence of expelling air from the stomach out of the mouth (1). In most cases this occurs because there is too much air in the stomach, producing distension that requires relief. In other cases, this occurs as the body’s attempt to relieve abdominal discomfort. For some, belching is purely habit based!
Reasons why you excessively belch:
There are a wide range of reasons why you may excessively belch. Some reasons are behavior-based and linked to bringing too much air into the stomach, while others are related to specific medical conditions.
- Aerophagia- the act of swallowing too much air
- This may occur when chewing gum, sucking on candy, talking and eating simultaneously, drinking through a straw, poor fitting dentures, smoking, using CPAP machine (for sleep apnea) or during an anxiety attack producing hyperventilation. Aerophagia is considered a behavioral disorder primarily found in those with anxiety.
- Foods that produce excess gas- fibrous foods and carbonated beverages
- High fiber foods are challenging to digest and cause excess gas production. Examples of these foods include legumes (beans, peas and lentils), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), onions, and whole wheat products.
- Carbonated beverages including beer, champagne, soda, seltzer, etc. bring in excess gas bubbles into the stomach. *avoid extra cold beverages as well, which may hinder digestion
- Foods that weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
- The LES is a muscle that closes off the stomach content from the esophagus during swallowing. Some foods make this sphincter muscle weaker including peppermint, chocolate, fatty meats, fried foods and caffeine.
- Smoking cigarettes also weakens the LES.
- Taking calcium carbonate– found in Tums, Rolaids and other supplements
- While some use these products relieve indigestion, others use calcium carbonate to help meet their daily calcium needs. Whatever the case, calcium carbonate neutralizes acid in the stomach and creates gas as a byproduct. Excess gas may cause belching.
- Medication side effects
- Lactulose & Sorbitol (laxatives)
- Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Aspirin (pain medications)
- Full list of drugs that may cause belching
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Peptic Ulcers
- Lactose Intolerance
- H.pylori infection
- Celiac disease
- Dumping syndrome
- Pancreatic insufficiency
It is important to talk to your doctor if you feel excessive belching is accompanied by other digestive pain/discomfort. Normal belching does not require any treatment and has no consequences.
10 Tips to Control Excessive Belching:
Mindful Eating Practices
- Chew your food slowly with your mouth closed.
- Make sure to eat in a relaxed state and allow enough time to eat your food.
- Eat smaller portions at each meal time.
- Avoid carbonated beverages, alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
- Avoid drinking with a straw.
- Sip on warm beverages like chamomile or ginger tea
- Sip on room temperature or slightly cooled purified water, separate from your meals
Avoid Gum and Hard Candy
- Instead, try chewing on 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds after a meal to help aid digestion
- Brush your teeth or use mouthwash to freshen your breath after a meal
Try a Low FODMAP Diet
- This diet helps reduce your exposure to fermentable carbohydrates that cause excess gas production
- To learn more, check out this article.
Remove Potential Trigger Foods
- Use a food diary for at least one week and keep track of your belching in relation to specific food choices
- Consider removing peppermint, chocolate, fatty meats, and fried foods that weaken the LES.
- Try meditation, journaling, yoga, or other daily practices to improve feelings of stress and anxiety throughout the day
- Be mindful of breathing patterns during anxious times to avoid hyperventilation
- Smoking brings excess air into the stomach and weakens the LES.
- Find a smoking cessation program that works for you.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
- Tight-fitting clothing places extra pressure on the abdomen and can promote discomfort, indigestion and belching.
- Wear clothing that does not apply pressure around the midsection.
Lose Weight (if overweight)
- Being overweight or obese, especially in the midsection, is a risk factor for GERD and heartburn.
- Find a program that works for you to ideally lose 5-10% of your current weight
Try Simethicone (as needed)
- When all else fails, it is safe and effective to use gas-relieving products like Alka-Seltzer or Gas-X
Try out these strategies and see how your excessive belching improves over time. If you continue to have concerning symptoms, consider further workup with a digestive health specialist to find out what may be the root cause.