If It Feels Like You’re Burping A Lot, This Could Explain Why

In some cultures, burping after a meal is the highest form of flattery. In China, for example, a belch tells the chef that you enjoyed your food and are comfortably satiated.

While a quick, painless burp may very well be your stomach applauding the meal, burping isn’t always a good thing (apologies to the chef!). There are a handful of other reasons, like food intolerances and anxiety, that can cause air to accumulate in your stomach then shoot through your windpipe and out of your mouth.

Whatever the cause, belching is simply how the body gets rid of air trapped inside your stomach. “It’s your body’s way of expelling excess air from the upper digestive tract, which consists of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine,” Dr. Brooks Cash, chief of gastroenterology with UTHealth Houston, told HuffPost.

Here are five reasons you might be constantly burping and what to do about it:

You swallowed too much air.

One of the most common causes for burping is gulping in too much air. This condition, known as aerophagia, can occur when you talk too fast, eat or drink too quickly, smoke, or chew and suck on hard candies. In addition, some people with anxiety swallow a ton of air as a sort of nervous habit in response to their anxiety.

Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Health, likens aerophagia to blowing in a balloon. “The stomach gets full of air to a tipping point then gets burped out or continues into the small bowel, which then gives the sensation of bloating, then into the colon then out the rectum as flatus (a fart),” Ganjhu said.

The best way to mitigate this is to eat and drink slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Biting and sipping more slowly reduces the amount of air you swallow during a meal. If you think anxiety is causing you to inhale large pockets of air, try a simple breathing exercise to help with the pain in the moment, Ganjhu said. “Sometimes, when people are anxious, they hyperventilate and swallow air. Mindfulness calms the mind and breathing,” she said.

You ate or drank certain foods or beverages.

Certain foods and drinks are known to make your insides bubbly. In general, foods that are rich in carbohydrates cause more gas, whereas fats and proteins are less likely to make you burp.

Per the Mayo Clinic, beans, peas, lentils and cabbage are common “gas-causing offenders.” Legumes are packed with fiber and starches that are tough for our body to break down. In fact, we rely on bacterial fermentation to digest them, which can be a big gas producer. Carbonated beverages also contribute. “All the gas in the carbonated beverage collects in the stomach. The stretching stimulates the burp to release the air,” Ganjhu said.

The easiest way to mitigate the burping: Decrease or avoid the triggers if they’re causing pain or disruption, Ganjhu said. One way to help identify the problem is to eliminate the foods and beverages from your diet that you think may be causing you to burp, then slowly re-introduce them. You can also try to opt for some foods that are less likely to cause gas, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, berries, grapes, tomatoes and zucchini.

You have GERD.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is another known trigger of belching. With GERD, the stomach acids flow back up the esophagus, creating heartburn, trouble swallowing and chest pain.

As a result, some people with GERD wind up unknowingly swallowing excessively to clear out the contents in their esophagus. That air can get trapped and make you want to burp. “It’s the reflux of these gastric contents that causes the typical symptoms of GERD, heartburn and/or a sense of regurgitation,” Cash said.

If you have, or think you have, GERD, you’ll definitely want to see a doctor. There are a range of treatments that can help manage your symptoms, but when it comes to belching, antacids are typically the go-to, Ganjhu explained.

You have a gastric motility issue.

Gastric motility disorders are another cause of excessive burping, the most common of which is a condition called gastroparesis, Cash said. Gastroparesis impairs the stomach muscles and nerves and slows digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, food sits in your stomach for long periods of time, making you feel full after eating small amounts of food and like you really need to burp. “If the stomach is full, that excess pressure needs to be released so any air gets burped out,” Ganjhu said.

This is another issue that should be evaluated by a health care provider. There are some lifestyle changes, like diet modifications, exercise and even acupuncture, that can alleviate symptoms but some people with more serious cases may require prescription medications or surgery.

You have a food intolerance.

Belching is a common symptom of food intolerances such as lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance and fructose malabsorption. With intolerances, the gut isn’t able to properly break down certain foods and so the food sits in your stomach, undigested.

This can lead to a mix of uncomfortable symptoms, like abdominal pain and nausea, and, of course, more gas and bloating. “The intolerances to, say, gluten or milk forms undigested sugars which get fermented and produce gas,” Ganjhu said.

If you think you’ve developed a food intolerance or sensitivity, talk to your doctor. Certain intolerances can be detected via diagnostic tests. However, others — like a gluten or histamine intolerance — can only be identified via keeping a food diary and testing out an elimination diet.

Burping may seem innocuous, but left untreated, incessant belching can be a major source of stress. Not only can it feel embarrassing, uncomfortable and even painful, but it can get in the way of your everyday tasks.

If you can’t pin down the root of your burps and they’re starting to impact your quality of life, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. They can recommend some lifestyle modifications and whip up a treatment plan to reduce the gas gathering in your stomach and help with the burps.