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The lowdown on burping

The lowdown on burping
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Burping is the body’s way of ridding itself of excess air. “It’s physiologic,” explains Dr Dan Sadowski, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta and gastroenterologist. “The stomach has a way of venting excess gas into the oesophagus, which in turn makes its way out of the mouth.”

According to Sadowski, a common misconception is that burping is the product of digestion in the stomach – that somehow foods that are being digested produce gas. That, however, is not the case. “Actually, all of the gas that you burp up is swallowed,” he says, adding that simply eating and drinking cause you to swallow air that needs to be released.

Here are some causes of excessive burping – and how to curb them.

You’re chewing gum too often

You’re chewing gum too often
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A 2015 study found that those participants who chewed gum burped significantly more than those who didn’t. That’s because when you chew gum, you swallow some air with each chew. That air ends up in your oesophagus, which then exits and causes you to burp, says Sadowski.

This is known as supragastric belching, one of two forms of burping. The other is gastric belching, the release of air from the stomach. It tends to be smellier than supragastric belching and is usually caused by consuming alcohol, high-fat foods, chocolate or peppermint.

You’re drinking a lot of fizzy drinks or carbonated water

You’re drinking a lot of fizzy drinks or carbonated water
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If you’re a big fan of fizzy drinks and find you’re burping excessively, the carbonation in your drink is likely the culprit. Carbonated beverages – which include soft drink, seltzer, mineral water and beer – add a lot of air to the stomach. And if you drink them with a straw, you’re compounding the problem, as even more air is added to the equation. Artificial sweeteners and caffeinated beverages can also lead to frequent belching.

The solution? Dr Sadowski recommends you take it easy on carbonated drinks if you’re burp-prone. But if you’re really craving that Diet Coke, pour it into a glass rather than drinking it with a straw – this will cut down on the carbonation.

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You’re a fast eater

You’re a fast eater
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If you have a habit of putting away your meals in mere minutes, you’re likely swallowing a lot more air than you would have if you ate more slowly, says Sadowski. Drinking while eating, he adds, can also lead to more air ingestion. “People are eating alone more often – and they tend to eat more quickly,” Sadowski says.

Instead, he suggests eating with friends and family where possible. Eating with others encourages you to talk between bites, slowing down how quickly you eat. If you’re living on your own, consider eating with someone virtually using Zoom or Skype.

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You’re anxious

You’re anxious
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People who suffer from anxiety tend to take more breaths per minute than those who don’t. They also tend to be shallow breathers, meaning they breathe rapidly from their chest. Breathing in all of that extra air means that they can end up with a supragastric belching issue. “Burping can actually be a manifestation of anxiety,” says Sadowski.

He says that the first line of defence should be an exercise program which can reduce anxiety symptoms and curb over breathing. Connecting with friends and family can also help. If the anxiety is interfering with daily life, Sadowski suggests seeing a therapist. They may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy, which can make you aware of correct and incorrect breathing. Another option is to find a physiotherapist who can teach you diaphragmatic breathing, or stomach breathing. This can retrain you to breathe normally.

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You have indigestion

You have indigestion
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Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, affects almost everyone at some point. It can cause excessive belching, as well as stomach pain or burning, bloating, feeling full too early, or being nauseous after meals. Indigestion can be caused by eating a greasy or acidic diet, taking lots of ibuprofen – which can irritate the stomach – or smoking, says Sadowski.

It can be treated with over-the-counter medications that relieve gas, or an H2 blocker that reduces acid. For severe cases, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of drugs that reduce stomach acid levels, can help.

Don’t miss these tried-and-true home remedies for heartburn.

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You have gastroesophageal reflux disease

You have gastroesophageal reflux disease
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When your burping is present with other symptoms, it may signal a medical issue. One common condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It happens when the valve that attaches your oesophagus to the stomach fails to close properly, allowing irritating stomach acid to enter and burn your oesophagus. GERD can cause heartburn (which can be worse at night), chest pain, swallowing issues, regurgitation of food or liquid, or the sensation you have a lump in your throat. People burp when they have GERD as they swallow more saliva – and air – to reduce the pain of the acid in their throat, says Sadowski.

If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, over-the counter heartburn medications, H2 blockers or PPIs can be used.

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You have an H. pylori infection

You have an H. pylori infection
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Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a commonly-occurring bacteria than can infect the stomach. It’s estimated that 50 per cent of the global population carries around this particular bacteria – one that can lead to stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

In addition to frequent burping, people who develop an H. pylori infection usually experience stomachache, burning in the stomach, abdominal pain when you’re not eating, nausea or loss of appetite, a burning pain in your abdomen, bloating and unintentional weight loss. H. pylori can be quickly identified through a blood test or breath test. It’s usually treated via a combination of three or four medications, including antibiotics, for 14 days.

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Most burping is perfectly normal

Most burping is perfectly normal
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The bottom line is if you’re experiencing concerning symptoms along with excessive belching – such as unintentional weight loss, trouble swallowing, vomiting, bleeding or severe abdominal pain – seek medical attention, says Sadowski. But burping is “most overwhelmingly a benign condition,” he says. “It may be troublesome, but it usually responds to simple lifestyle measures.”

Next, find out other gross (but normal) things your body does every morning.

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Source: RD Canada 

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