BELCHING/BURPING; WHAT YOU NEED TO KOW
Belching is a normal physiology that occurs several times in a day. It occurs when ingested air accumulated in the stomach is expelled or when food containing air and gas produced in the gastrointestinal tract is expelled and this does not pose a problem. Excessive belching can cause abdominal discomfort enough to disturb activities of daily life, decreased quality of life and may be related to various gastrointestinal disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, functional dyspepsia.
Aerophagia (Air swallowing)
Air enters the mouth through the airways and pass to the lung as occurs with mouth breathing or if the epiglottis to the airways is closed, air can be pushed into the esophagus. Essentially air has to be swallowed to enter the esophagus.
Aerophagia is not a disease. It is as a result of several factors, which are commonly lifestyle factors. Air can be swallowed through;
- Eating or drinking too fast (beverages, particularly carbonated or aerated beverages. Soda pop (soft drinks).
- Talking excessively
- Chewing gum
- Mouth breathing (due to nasal congestion or labored breathing).
- Cigarette smoking
- Persistent coughing (deep breaths prior to coughing may lead to some air being swallowing)
- Missing teeth or incorrectly fitting dental appliances, like dentures
- Rapid breathing with anxiety (hyperventilation)
Causes of Excessive Burping
The diseases that cause excessive burping can vary but usually involves conditions that affect the stomach. Excessive burping caused by diseases are collectively referred to as pathological causes.
Food Intolerance or Malabsorption; inability of the body to properly digest certain foods
- Lactose intolerance – milk sugars
- Gluten intolerance – wheat
- Fructose malabsorption – fruit sugar
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
Excessive Burping In Babies
Excessive gas in the oesophaus leading to burping is frequently seen in babies. Babies need to be burped by caregivers because their ability to expel the gas voluntarily is not the same as with an adult. Babies are more likely to develop excessive burping for the following reasons :
- Prolonged and repeated bouts of crying
- Drinking too fast
- Bottle feeding
- Impaired suckling reflex
Most of these conditions lead to air swallowing. Food intolerance and malabsorption syndrome may be present from birth.
There is no specific treatment for preventing excessive burping without identifying the cause. Excessive burping is a symptom and not a disease on its own and therefore treatment may vary.
- Analgesics help to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by excessive gas.
- Effervescent salts may increase gas in the upper gut but is sometimes used to relieve bloating and discomfort.
- Eating and drinking slowly, talking at an appropriate speed and avoiding cigarette smoking can significantly ease excessive burping.
- Carbonated beverages should be avoided also beer.
- Foods that can exacerbate burping should be avoided or consumed in moderation.