Belching or burping is also medically referred to as eructation or ructus. Essentially it is a process of releasing gas from the digestive tract through the mouth. A typical odor or sound may also accompany the process of gas release. Belching is a common universal phenomenon and not limited to few people with any specific disorder. Infants to older adults belch or burp to expel air that has been swallowed in excess. Belching relieves the abdomen of discomfort caused due to the excess air.

Belching can also form as a habit to many people and such belching or burping may not be related to the accumulation of air in their stomachs. Instinctively people resort to belching on account of any form of abdominal discomfort to expel gas and ease the existing discomfort.

Though it sounds like a simple exercise, technically belching is a co-coordinated activity. For example: the larynx is raised to ensure no liquid or food passing with the air from the stomach gets into the lungs and this process also relaxes the upper cardia (esophageal sphincter) such that air can pass more easily from the esophagus into the throat. The lower cardia (esophageal sphincter) also needs to open so that air can pass from the stomach into the esophagus. During these activities, the diaphragm descends such that it increases abdominal pressure and decreases pressure in the chest similar to taking a breath. The change in pressure ensures air flows from the stomach in the abdomen to the esophagus in the chest.

Symptoms of Belching

Belching is in itself a symptom, generally associated with some kind of digestive disorder like gas, bloating, acidity or other conditions. There are no symptoms of belching therefore, but there may be associated symptoms that you could notice. These symptoms will give you a better idea of the underlying cause and the possible steps that you could take to remedy the situation.

  • Burning sensation or pain in the stomach after one to four hours of a meal
  • Feel hungry frequently
  • Constant pain in upper abdomen
  • Belching, nausea, bitter taste in mouth, vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Heartburn is characterized by a deeply placed, burning pain in the chest behind the sternum (breast-bone). It occurs after meals and is precipitated by increase in intra-abdominal pressure like straining or lifting weights.
  • Dyspepsia is a burning or an aching pain in the upper abdomen, sometimes described as a stabbing sensation penetrating through the gut.

Several symptoms of indigestion occur to give a clear indication of the trouble in the stomach area. In addition to heartburn, if the person experiences indigestion, he will probably face one or more of the symptoms of indigestion. Indigestion symptoms are actually very common for many other conditions connected to the digestive tract, especially stomach conditions. These indigestion symptoms include, a burning sensation in the upper abdomen, abdominal pain, belching, flatulence, vomiting, heartburn, bloating of the stomach and nausea.

You may experience less common indigestion symptoms frequently, even daily, or only on occasion. At times any of these digestive symptoms can be severe:

Causes of Belching

Belching is caused by multiple factors that affect the normal process of digestion. There are many possible causes of indigestion. Some are related to lifestyle and what you eat and drink. Indigestion can also be caused by other digestive conditions. The most common causes of belching as a result of indigestion include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Certain medications such as antibiotics, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Chocolate
  • Eating too much at one sitting
  • Eating too rapidly
  • Eating while emotionally upset
  • Gallstones
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Smoking
  • Spicy, high-fat, or greasy food
  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis)

What are the risk factors for indigestion?

A number of factors increase your risk of developing indigestion and belching. Not all people with risk factors will experience belching. Risk factors could include:

  • Eating meals too quickly
  • Emotional stress while eating
  • Overabundance of high-fiber foods
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Overconsumption of caffeine
  • Spicy, high-fat, and greasy foods
  • Tobacco use
  • Too much food at meals

Remedies for Belching

Antacids are the mainstay of treatment for indigestion and can be highly effective in relieving symptoms. In addition, medications to decrease stomach acid and help increase antibiotic effectiveness may be given. Home remedies for belching can also be of great help when there is no disease or underlying condition responsible, but a simple problem of indigestion. Most natural treatments for belching and indigestion involve the use of dietary modifications and lifestyle changes to facilitate and improve the digestive process.

Some remedies that work in treating belching:

  • Eating slowly or having smaller meals
  • Avoiding chewing gum and carbonated drinks
  • Excessive consumption of onions and chocolates may also contribute to excessive burping. Avoid such foods
  • Avoid alcohol, especially among individuals suffering from chronic belching or excessive belching
  • Reducing stress, following exercise tips from medical practitioners and inducing relaxation can help treat belching

Some other tips to help prevent or reduce belching include:

  • Try to identify foods that contribute to excess stomach acid. Foods that are spicy, salty and acidic should be avoided.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption should be stopped to keep stomach acid levels in the stomach and esophagus in harmony.
  • Avoiding stress and try moderating your lifestyle to include relaxing techniques. This can go a long way to prevent excess stomach acid and ulcers, particularly if you are a nervous and emotional person or involved in a high-stress job.
  • Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs may predispose a person to excess stomach acid.
  • Try to eat regular meals and follow a healthy diet.
  • Take extra care when lifting weights, as this puts the abdominal area under added strain and may result in digestion problems.
  • If you have a bout of excess stomach acid, try having an organic glass of fat-free or low-fat milk to help normalize the pH in your stomach.

Diet for Belching

To reduce belching avoid gulping food or drink too rapidly.

  • Some foods may trigger the belching process such as milk and sugars.
  • Certain types of vegetables and fruits containing a particular type of starch are not well digested by the stomach but are effective tools to treat bacteria in the stomach; these include: beans, lentils, cabbage, bananas, apricots, prunes, onions and sprouts. It is advisable to avoid such vegetables and fruits to prevent belching.
  • Foods made from whole grains may also cause gas and consequent belching or burping.

Some other diet tips that could help in the treatment of belching include:

  • Eat fruits like apple, watermelon and banana
  • Avoid fried food, pickle, hot and spicy food
  • Take your meals on time
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t skip your meals.
  • Avoid garlic, onion, pepper, radish and cabbage
  • Eat green and leafy vegetables
  • Take light meals that make it easy for digestive system to quickly digest the food you eat.
  • Spicy, salty and acidic should be avoided.

Suggestion for Belching

Weight loss, avoid tight clothes and maintain a food diary

Treating excessive intestinal gas depends on various factors such as: diagnosing the root cause and treatment may include dietary changes and /or medications that reduce the amount of gas.

You may be able to lower your risk of belching by:

  • Allowing plenty of time for meals
  • Avoiding alcohol with meals
  • Avoiding emotionally upsetting situations during meals
  • Avoiding spicy, high-fat, and greasy foods
  • Avoiding strenuous exercise right after a meal
  • Chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
  • Limiting high-fiber foods

Belching - Frequently asked questions