Belching is the audible escape of air from the esophagus into the pharynx. The medical term for belching is eructation. Bloating, burping and passing gas are natural and are usually caused by swallowed air or the breakdown of food through digestion. You may experience gas and gas pains only occasionally or repeatedly in a single day. When gas and gas pains interfere with your daily activities, it may be an indication of something serious. Find out how to reduce or avoid gas and gas pains, and when you may need to see your doctor.Belching (eructation) is triggered in two ways. First, too much gas is produced in the stomach by eating such foods as bran, raw fruit, vegetables, or by drinking gaseous liquids such as beer, soda, or seltzer. Even apple, grape, and prune juice can lead to belching.
The second cause is swallowing too much air, a condition known as aerophagia in chronic cases. Strange as it may seem, it does not take much effort to swallow air. Gulping one's food, drinking too fast, or talking while eating brings in excessive amounts of air, which can build up in the gastrointestinal tract. Chewing gum, sucking on candy, smoking a pipe or cigarettes, or chewing on a cigar also greatly increase air intake and, with it, belching. Aerophagia occurs normally in small amounts while eating and drinking, but some people unconsciously swallow repeated boluses of air at other times, especially when anxious.
Belching or burping is your body's way of expelling excess air from your stomach. You may swallow excess air if you eat or drink too fast, talk while you eat, chew gum or suck on hard candies, drink carbonated beverages, or drink through a straw.
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can have the same effect. If stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, you may swallow repeatedly to clear the material. This can lead to swallowing more air and further belching.
Some people swallow air as a nervous habit — even when they're not eating or drinking. In other cases, chronic belching is related to inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), peptic ulcer disease or delayed stomach emptying (gastroparesis).
You can reduce belching if you:
- Eat and drink slowly. Taking your time can help you swallow less air. Also, avoid drinking through a straw.
- Avoid carbonated drinks and beer. They release carbon dioxide gas.
- Skip the gum and hard candy. When you chew gum or suck on hard candy, you swallow more often than normal. Part of what you're swallowing is air.
- Don't smoke. When you inhale smoke, you also inhale and swallow air.
- Check your dentures. Poorly fitting dentures can cause you to swallow excess air when you eat and drink.
- Treat heartburn. For occasional, mild heartburn, over-the-counter antacids or other remedies may be helpful. GERD may require prescription-strength medication or other treatments.