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What is Belching?

By Steve R.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Belching, also known as burping, takes place when one's stomach air moves up the esophagus and is released through the mouth, often making a noise. Medically referred to as eructation, belching is not usually a cause for concern. In certain instances, however, excessive belching may be related to a gastric condition.

Burping is often caused by the intake of too much air into the stomach. Having an inflated stomach creates abdominal discomfort. In turn, belching provides relief by eliminating excess air in the stomach. Swallowing too much air, which is known as aerophagia, can typically be caused by eating too fast, drinking carbonated beverages, and experiencing anxiety. Certain foods, such as raw fruits, vegetables, and bran may elicit burps. Infants generally are not able to belch on their own, and need assistance to force out air after feeding.

When an individual belches, many bodily functions must occur. The larynx must stay closed to prevent liquid or food from getting into the lungs. In the belching process, a person's larynx raises, allowing food to pass from the esophagus into the throat. The lower esophageal sphincter also must open, which allows air to move from the stomach to the esophagus. During this time, the diaphragm moves down, similar to when an individual takes a breath. This causes more pressure on the abdomen while lowering the pressure in the chest. The alterations in pressure support the flow of air from the abdomen to the chest.

Some people are able to burp at will even with little air in their stomach. This occurs when an individual takes air into their esophagus. The immediate process involving the intake and outtake of air from the esophagus produces an instant burp.

Excessive burping may be caused by a gastroesophageal reflux disease. Treating gastroesophageal reflux disease often resolves excessive belching. To curb the condition, a person may take anti-gas medication, including simethicone. Oftentimes, simple lifestyle changes, such as slowing down the eating process and avoiding chewing gum and drinking soda, may aid in alleviating the condition. In some cases, a person may need to undergo relaxation therapy or behavioral therapy to curb excessive belching.

If the reason for gastric discomfort is not caused by an overabundance of air, then burping usually will not provide relief. When burping does not offer relief from internal uneasiness, it is usually a sign that an individual may have some type of abdomen ailment. A physician may be able to diagnosis the cause of the abdominal condition.

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