Belching or burping every once in a while isn’t a big deal. In fact, it’s actually quite normal to burp a few times every day. Sure, it can be embarrassing sometimes – but it’s completely natural. But… what causes burping? And what if you tend to burp a lot every day?
Let’s take a look at the science behind burping – as well as what it could mean for you.
What Causes Burping?
So, what causes burping in the first place? Well, it turns out there are several reasons why we burp. These are just a few:
Reason #1: Swallowing Too Much Air
Swallowing air is known as aerophagia. Everybody does this when they eat or drink. But there are other reasons this occurs as well. For example, if you wear dentures that are too loose, or you smoke or chew gum, you may take in more air than usual.
The only way your body can get rid of this excessive amount of air… is to let it out! Sometimes, it comes out of the mouth in the form of a burp.1
Reason #2: Drinking Carbonated Beverages
If you like carbonated drinks, then you may tend to burp a lot. Burping after drinking carbonated beverages is due to an accumulation of gas in the upper abdomen.2
Soda, beer, and other drinks have “fizz” that tickles your throat – and this fizz contains carbon dioxide. Manufacturers will sometimes add this gas to improve the taste of a drink. In some cases, carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the manufacturing process.
If too much carbon dioxide builds up in the abdomen, pressure tends to build up as well. This pressure will eventually lead to a burp.3
Reason #3: Eating High-Fiber Foods
High-fiber foods – including beans, peas, fruits, and bran – boast a number of impressive health benefits. For example, they can help lower your cholesterol levels to promote heart health.4
And while fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet, it can also make you burp… a lot.
The main culprit is soluble fiber. You see, soluble fiber dissolves in water – but it doesn’t completely break down until it reaches your intestines. Once it does, it can lead to gas.5
Foods high in soluble fiber include:
- Oats (including muffins and cereals)
Eating starchy foods – like corn, wheat, and potatoes – can also lead to burping. When these foods start to break down in the intestines, that can lead to gas as well.
Reason #4: Consuming Too Much Sugar
Now, there are several different types of sugar – and many of them contribute to belching. Have you ever burped after drinking a glass of milk or eating a bowl of ice cream? Well, a type of sugar known as lactose may have been the culprit!
Lactose is a form of sugar found in several different types of dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese. It’s also found in certain processed foods, like cereal and bread.
Many people have food intolerances, including lactose intolerance. If your body doesn’t have enough of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose, you might belch more as a result.6
How Much Belching is Too Much?
It’s normal to burp as many as three or four times after a meal. Some people have more gas than others, and can burp up to 20 times a day.7 So what’s considered an excessive amount of gas?
Well, unfortunately, there’s really no cut-and-dried number. In general, excessive gas is a problem when it starts to interfere with your daily life.
Problems that Can Lead to Excessive Belching
As it turns out, there are lots of reasons for excessive belching. Some people, for example, might have digestive issues, or nausea. Others may experience chest pain, or pain in the throat when they burp. These are a few of the reasons why you may be burping too much:
Eating too fast, or too much, can lead to a lot of burping – and indigestion. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your digestive health.8
Certain foods can contribute to that bloated feeling. For example, a type of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides, And Polyols) can be hard for your body to digest. These include apples, pears, and other fruits. Dairy products, such as milk and ice cream, can also be high in FODMAPs.10
Your stomach and the rest of your gastrointestinal tract is filled with bacteria. Bacteria can cause health problems, but there are also beneficial bacteria. Sometimes bacteria, both good and bad, can lead to burping.12
We briefly mentioned food intolerances as a potential cause of belching. The sugar lactose is a prime example. But there are other food intolerances that can also lead to excessive gas.
Some people can’t digest a fruit sugar known as fructose. You’ll find fructose in candy, soda, and other “junk” foods. If your body can’t break down fructose, that can lead to burping. It can also lead to nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.13
Belching can also occur as a response to gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein typically found in grains such as barley, rye, and wheat. If your body can’t digest gluten, that can lead to not only gassiness but other digestive issues.14
Avoiding Your Food “Triggers”
The easiest way to deal with a food intolerance, of course, is just to avoid the food that’s causing problems. If you’re still experiencing digestive issues and you don’t know why, talk to your doctor – he or she will know how best to address your unique medical needs.15
Burping could also be caused by acid reflux. This common digestive disorder affects one in five adults in the U.S.16
It occurs when acid from the stomach comes back up into the esophagus.
The problem centers on the part of the esophagus known as the esophageal sphincter. The esophageal sphincter is a muscle that is supposed to keep acid from backing up. This muscle is supposed to open when food goes into the stomach and then close once the food passes.17
But when the esophageal sphincter stays open, acid and undigested food can get into the esophagus. This can cause symptoms such as excessive gas and tightness in the chest.18 People with gastroesophageal reflux know those symptoms well.
Dealing With Reflux
If you have reflux, you have a lot of options when it comes to relieving reflux symptoms. Changing your diet to avoid things like tomato-based products, coffee, and citrus fruits could help.
Talk to your doctor to determine the best option for your particular situation. Your doctor may also recommend quitting smoking or losing some weight.
Diagnosing the Problem
If you have any concerns about your digestive health, be sure to speak with your doctor. He or she will likely ask about your diet, and you may be asked to keep a diary of what you eat and drink. Expect a lot of questions. Your doctor will certainly want to know what types of symptoms you’re experiencing, and how often.19
Addressing Your Belching
What causes burping? As you can see, a lot of things can contribute to belching – and it’s a completely normal part of life. But if you’re at all concerned with your own medical needs, be sure to consult your physician. He or she will know best how to address your unique needs.
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