Like flatulence, burping is your body's way of getting rid of excessive gas or swallowed air. While burping is normal, if your burping is excessive, then you may be dealing with an underlying health issue that requires a visit to your doctor. How to stop excessive burping may depend a lot on the underlying cause.
About That Burping
Guess what? Burping isn't always voluntary. That's right, your burping is how your stomach or esophagus releases trapped air or gas, and it's a normal physiological process. When your stomach gets the sensation that it's full, it relaxes your sphincter muscle, which serves as a type of trap door between your stomach and your esophagus. When the muscle relaxes, air escapes and the distinctive belching sound emits from your mouth. This is referred to as involuntary belching or gastric belching.
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to have the ability to burp on command? This is referred to as voluntary burping, or supragastric belching, and the air isn't coming from your stomach, but from your esophagus. While the on-demand burper may find the noise that emits from the mouth hysterical, this form of voluntary burping can also develop from an underlying health issue, such as an anxiety disorder.
While there's no medical definition of excessive belching, there are some factors that may indicate your burping is a bit excessive. According to an April 2014 review published in Frontline Gastroenterology, it's normal to experience gastric belching as many as 30 times a day. With regards to supragastric belching, the authors of the review note that excessive burping can vary and be as frequent as 20 burps a minute.
What Causes Excessive Burping?
Your frequent belches may develop from many different causes, ranging from a bad habit to food choices to an underlying health issue. Talking to your doctor may help you get the answers you seek and the right treatment to help you to stop the excessive burping.
If you've developed a habit of swallowing air and belching it out repeatedly, then that may be the underlying cause of your excessive burping. Researchers are debating whether this condition of excessive supragastric belching is behavioral in nature or the result of an underlying health condition, such as acid reflux or anxiety. In either case, it requires medical management.
Excessive gastric belching is often a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which occurs when your esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly, allowing the contents of your stomach, including the excess gas, to bubble up into your esophagus. With GERD, you may also experience heartburn and taste your stomach contents in the back of your mouth.
Of course, your excessive belching may also be due to your food and beverage choices. It may come as no surprise that carbonated beverages, including cola and beer, cause excess gas to develop in your stomach that must be released in some form or fashion. If you like to chew gum or suck on hard candy, you may be inadvertently swallowing too much air that may also lead to excessive burping. If your gum or candy contains the sugar alcohol sorbitol, you may also experience other gastrointestinal disturbances, such as abdominal pain or diarrhea.
How to Stop Excessive Burping
While your doctor is the best person to give advice about how to stop your excessive burping, especially if the underlying cause is medical, you can make a few modifications to your diet and lifestyle that may help lessen the belches.
For starters, stop drinking carbonated beverages, and instead, drink water and flavor it with lemon or lime. Herbal tea works well, too, but if you have GERD avoid peppermint tea as it may worsen your reflux. Also, stop chewing gum and sucking on hard candy.
If your excessive belching is due to GERD, there are a number of things you can do that may help stop excessive burping, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In addition to avoiding peppermint tea, you also want to:
- Avoid coffee
- Limit spicy and fatty foods
- Eat small meals
- Drink in between meals
And, as your mom used to say, don't talk with your mouth full. When eating, try to limit conversation, as talking may increase the amount of air you swallow and lead to more belching.
- UWHealth: "Gas, Bloating and Burping"
- Frontline Gastroenterology: "Review: Managing a Patient With Excessive Belching"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "By the Way Doctor: What Can I Do About Excessive Belching and Feeling Full?"
- Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: "Supragastric Belching"
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: "Supragastric Belching: Prevalence and Association With Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Esophageal Hypomotility"
- MedlinePlus: "GERD"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Eating, Diet and Nutrition with GER and GERD"