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Sulfur, Rotten Eggs Burps (Belching), Foul Smelling Gas, Foods High in Sulfur

What Is Burping (Belching)?

Burping (belching) means expelling of the air or other gases from your stomach through your mouth. Many healthy people expel some non-smelling air after eating or drinking. Various health disorders can causes excessive burping

What Are Sulfur Burps?

The smell of sulfur (sulphur) or rotten egg burps comes from hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gas originating from sulfur-containing proteins in certain foods (see below) after they are broken down in the stomach or small intestine by sulfur-reducing microbes.  These microbes may be normal intestinal bacteria or pathogenic bacteria.



Sulfur Containing Foods

Removing sulfur containing foods from the diet may reduce the smell of sulfur burps:

  • Sulfur containing food preservatives, like guacamola, often used on dried fruits, salads in hotels, meat in fast-food restaurants or in pre-prepared canned foods
  • Poultry
  • Red meats
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products, especially milk
  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, mustard, onions, pack choi, parsley, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watercress, yams
  • Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, soy, carob, jicama, alfalfa
  • Fruits: avocado, bananas, watermelon
  • Grains, nuts and seeds: corn, sunflower seeds, oats, cashews, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, coconut.
  • Tea and coffee
  • Whey proteins
  • Amino acids: cysteine, methionine
  • Vitamins B1 (thiamine) and H (biotin)
  • Certain medicines may contain sulfur (also check labels for amino acids cysteine or methionine that contain sulfur).

Sulfur Reducing Microbes

Examples of sulfur reducing bacteria and some other microbes that can use sulfur compounds from the food and yield hydrogen sulfide as an end product:

  • Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium causing chronic gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcer, upper abdominal bloating, heartburn and burping. H. pylori is diagnosed by urea breath test; treatment is by antibiotics.
  • Giardia lamblia, a one-cell parasite, usually contracted by food or water poisoning, causing diarrhea, bloating, foul smelling burps or farts. For diagnosis and treatment read about human intestinal parasites
  • Intestinal bacteria that are part of normal intestinal flora but can cause bloating, burping, flatulence or diarrhea when they overgrow; condition is called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) . SIBO may be also  present in lactose intolerance or fructose malabsorption. In certain diseases like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, foods may not be digested completely and can be therefore broken down by sulfur reducing bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide. 

How To Get Rid Of Sulfur Burps?

  1. Remove as much as possible sulfur containing foods from your diet. This may reduce sulfur smell of burps and gas in a day or two. After that, you will still need to find the cause of belching or gas themselves.
  2. If you suspect you might have celiac disease, besides the low-sulfur diet, try a gluten-free diet (no wheat, barley and rye). If your symptoms disappear or lessen considerably within a week or two, this speaks for celiac disease. 
  3. If you have history of peptic ulcer, stomach burning, gastric reflux and heartburn, visit a gastroenterologist and ask for a breath test for Helycobacter pylori. This bacterium is a common cause of sulfur burps. Treatment is with 7 or 10 day course of antibiotics. 
  4. If you are bloated and have excessive foul smelling gas or loose stools with mucus, ask your doctor for a stool test for ova and parasites (O&P) since you may have infection with a parasite giardia. Treatment is with anti-parasitic drugs.
  5. If you suspect Crohn’s disease - symptoms include low grade temperature, nausea, fatigue, blood in the stool, diarrhea, bloating - visit gastroenterologist and ask for appropriate tests that may include colonoscopy.
  6. If all above tests are negative, ask for breath test for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) .
  7. Gastric emptying test may reveal slow stomach emptying (gastroparesis).
  8. Some people with gallstones reported that sulfur burps disappeared after gallbladder removal. Diagnosis of gallstones is with abdominal ultrasound or other gallbladder tests.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • To get rid of sulfur burps, sometimes you only need to remove some particular food(s) rich in sulfur, for example, Pina Colada, containing coconut cream.   
  • If you have sulfur burps but NOT sulfur gas (flatulence) the cause is probably in your stomach (H. pylori infection, gastroparesis). If you suffer from both sulfur burps and gas or only sulfur gas you may have small intestinal or gallbladder disorder.
  • Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), a popular antidiarrheal drug, binds hydrogen sulfide and removes it from the gastrointestinal tract thus reducing sulfur burps and gas. Pepto Bismol should NOT be used in children, and no longer then 2-3 weeks in adults. Pepto Bismol usually colors your tongue and stool black. 

Related Articles:

References:

  1. Sulfur containing foods  (canarys-eye-view.org)
About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer
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  • Didadragonfly

    I had these horrible burps for years until I finally figured it out on my own.

    STOP EATING CHICKEN in ALL forms!! That is what CURED me!!

    I no longer suffer AT ALL! I can’t eat Chicken, chicken broth, etc. But its a small price to pay to live sulphur burp free! I stopped eating chicken nearly a year ago and haven’t had a SINGLE episode of sulphur burps/nausea/vomitting since!

    For your on sake, give it a try, just passing along my own experience to hopefully help others!

  • Jan Modric

    Didadragonfly,

    I appreciate you have shared your experience. Poultry is high in sulphur…Someone said that he got rid of sulphur burps after stopping drinking one coconut flavored alcoholic drink.

  • confussed

    I am 28 weeks preagnat..pass few day iv been getting egg burps never changed anything i eat. but when i go to sleep they go away but there bak by night.?

  • Jan Modric

    confussed,

    if sulfur burps are the only symptom you have, it could be from Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach, to mention only one possible cause. Have you started some new medication or supplement?

  • siouxcee

    I had rotten egg burps most of my life, they stopped 13 years ago after I had my gall bladder removed. Not one all that time, but 5 days ago i started taking Chantix to stop smoking…and they’re back :/

  • Jan Modric

    siouxcee,

    and what happens if you stop taking Chantix?

  • ombeth

    I cut out most of the Brassicaceae family about 12 years ago, especially cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts and had little to no trouble after that. I was able to eat kale and chard and had no other gassy effect of other foods, until recently. Within the past 6 months or so, I have become unable to eat tomatoes (I get severe heartburn), and garlic and onions now cause gas and abdominal pain, and the list is growing every day. Why would my body reject more and more sulfuric foods? Do I have an issue with my intestinal flora?

  • Jan Modric

    ombeth,

    apart from sulfur, fructose could be a problem. Maybe you have developed a fructose malabsorption. In this case, apples, pears, plums, peaches, dry fruits, onions would cause Here’s a list of foods that may be problematic in fructose malabsorption. Diagnosis is with a breath test with fructose.

    Other possibilities: Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

  • elliebear

    today, i was in my local oktoberfest parade dancing behind a float as a clown i hadnt eaten anything but there was a fog machine on the float. near the end after about an hour i started getting egg tasting burps and i still have them. is there any specific reason why? nothing else happens but the burps.

  • Jan Modric

    elliebear,

    the liquid used in fog machines can contain sulfur. When you inhale or ingest sulfur-containing vapour, Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach can produce hydrogen sulfide from it, resulting in sulfur (egg tasting) burps. If you have sulfur burps after eating sulfur containing foods (check examples above in the article)you may visit a gastroenterologist and ask for a test for H. pylori.

  • Erin

    Help! I have had a couple cases of these but they usually are with nausea and vomitting. This time nothing besides the burps and they are so bad for the last 48 hours my husband has been making be carry a can of Febreeze to spray the air after I burp. My diet has not changed except I have started eating more chicken lately. I’m also wondering if the seizure medication Topomax has sulfur in it? Also if it does what can I do to help with the burps because the Topomax is working to keep the migraines away. I also eat a lot of sunflower seeds but that’s nothing new. I’m suprised my son wasn’t born part Sunflower =)

  • Jan Modric

    Erin,

    both chicken and sunflower seeds are high in sulfur. Also check the other foods high in sulfur above in the article. It’s not necessary you avoid all sulfur containing foods; it is a high amount of sulfur that causes sulfur burps. Additionally, it’s possible you’ve acquired a Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach. Diagnosis is with a blood or breath test.

  • pocket

    Help! i have been getting thee egg burps for idk how long! ever since i was a kid. i also have notice my brother gets them to and just recently my husband got egg burps. should i change our diet? i do love to cook and i cook a variety of meats and pastas. what should i do. they smell so bad:(

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Pocket

    Diet could be a factor, especially since there are several people suffering with this symptom without any other signs and symptoms. If a dietary change does not alter the odor the you should see a doctor. Remember that chronic infections like H.pylori, which may be responsible for this symptom, often affects many members of the same household.

  • mplaut

    I had the symptoms and what I found that worked for me is to avoid all foods that have the preservative SORBATE (sometimes just called e200, e201, e202 or e203). Sulfites are ok. They do not bother me. Just Sorbate.

    This commonly occurs in fruit juices, soft drinks, fruit salads and other commercially prepared salads. Some sweet wines also have sorbate. (Most wines have sulfites but those do not bother me: only sorbate.)

    This was the result of a 20 year effort that finally paid off. If I am careful not to eat or drink anything with sorbate, I do not get the symptoms.

    FWIW

  • Jessica

    I have been experiencing these egg smelling burbs for some time now and they seem to be getting worse and worse, my husbands says that it smells like I am rotting from the inside out. I have tried to change my diet thinking that it was the foods that I was eating but that did nothing. I have heard that to stop or slow the intake of chicken and that did nothing for me, any ideas on how to get this to stop.

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Jessica

    If it really is so foul that another person finds it extremely offensive, then you need to have it investigated. Most of us do not place much importance on symptoms related to burping but it can be an indication of a number of diseases. This could be related to a bacterial overgrowth in the upper parts of the small bowel, necrosis of tissue within the gut, a lung abscess and other respiratory diseases or even a slow movement of food through the upper gut as is seen in diabetics. These offensive burps may just be the first symptom. It could also be related to less serious, but equally important conditions like acid reflux, peptic ulcers and H.pylori infection.

  • Lilly

    Thanks. This has been a very helpful & informative website. My husband gets these burps that smell like he farts out his mouth. It’s aweful. Now I know where to start to get help for him. He’s taken garlic pills & they helped for a while. Mexican food seems to set it off but not all the time. We thought eggs might be the cause too. Last week he at fast food, burger, fries, etc & got them. We are at out wits end.