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Excess air in the stomach expelled through the mouth is called as belching. This is a completely normal reflex that occurs when one swallows excess air when eating, drinking or talking while eating or chewing.The stomach expands due to too much swallowed air and results in the release of the excess air through the mouth. Belching is also called as burping or ructus or eructation.

What Leads to Belching?

Many times, people tend to belch after eating. It is thought to be a sign of eating well. However, in many cases, belching is a serious matter and quite an embarrassing condition. In some rare cases, the gas or air in the stomach can be a sign of an underlying gas-producing disease.

The process of bringing out swallowed air in the stomach out through the mouth is called aerophagia.This natural or involuntary swallowing of air occurs when one drinks too quickly and drinks too fast. In some cases, taking and eating simultaneously allows more air to pass into the stomach through the mouth. Other causes of aerophagia include:

  • Chewing on chewing gum, sucking on hard candies
  • Breathing through the mouth, rather than the nostrils
  • Smoking
  • Drinking with the help of straw
  • Wearing illfitting dentures
  • Anxiety or panic attacks

Eating or drinking certain types of foods also leads to belching. Foods such as beans, broccoli, peas, onions, cauliflower, banana, lentils, bread, etc. are the culprits. Drinking alcohol or carbonated drinks too leads to belching. So avoid high starch, sugar or fiber foods and aerated as well as alcoholic drinks as they lead to gas.

Cert ain medications such as Acarbose, metformin, and Byetta for diabetes can lead to burping.The use of ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, or laxatives such as lactulose and sorbitol can lead to belching.

Health ailments that can lead to belching, abdominal discomfort and pain include:

  • Delayed gastric emptying or gastroparesis where the walls of the stomach are weakened
  • Gastritis, that is, inflammation of the stomach lining
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) where the stomach acid flows upward to the esophagus
  • Fructose or sorbitol malabsorption
  • Infection of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)

In a few cases, it is a case of medical emergency. Excessive belching can be a sign of hiatal hernia or a stomach or intestinal ulcer.

Belching in Infants

Babies often suffer from gas problems when feeding. This is because they suck in a lot of air when feeding. This gas leads to considerable abdominal discomfort leading to an agitated baby. In order to release the gas, the baby should be held up to the adult’s shoulder with the stomach resting on the adult’s chest. Gently patting on the lower back of the baby will help the baby release gas and burp. Thus, relieving the baby of the discomfort in the stomach.

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Some infants have a habit of sucking on their thumbs. This sucking on thumbs can lead to bloating and belching in infants.

Diagnosis for Belching

Generally, belching is considered a normal phenomenon and it is not medically investigated. However, excessive belching along with heartburn, abdominal pain and gas is considered for medical evaluation. The doctor may suggest X-ray or endoscopy to rule out GERD. Abdominal distention if observed is considered as case of weak abdominal muscles or hernia. The patient may also be checked for lactose intolerance. The hydrogen breath test is given in case the patient suffers from postnasal discharge due to sinus problems. Blood and stool tests are not very useful, but may be considered in case stomach infection is suspected.

Treatment for Belching

One should try and eat slowly as well as drink slowly. Avoid talking while eating. Do not suck on hard candies for longer times and avoid drinking carbonated and alcoholic drinks such as beer, champagne. Smoking should also be avoided. One should get their dentures checked, in case they do not fit properly and lead to excessive air swallowing. In case of chronic belching, it may require medical treatment as it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as GERD.

Belching is a normal process that does not require medical treatment. Only in case of chronic cases, it has to be investigated for underlying medical problems. if you suffer from a bad case of belching, speak to your general practitioner for help.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 20, 2015