Burping (belching) is a normal and common phenomenon that we all experience on a daily basis. Passing gas from any orifice is part of the digestive process and we often do not think about, unless it is loud, smelly and done in a public space. In fact, we may burp as many as 20 times in a day, sometimes more and sometimes less, without realizing that we are passing gas so often.
However, there is a point where belching may be considered unusual, abnormal and even a symptom of some disease. This is when belching or burping is excessive, very frequent and smells unusually bad. There are certain times when burping is more likely to occur, like after eating a meal or drinking certain types of beverages. However, even in this instance it should not be excessive or unusually foul in odor.
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Why Do We Burp After Eating or Drinking?
The food or beverages that we consume are accompanied by air as it travels down the throat and esophagus (food pipe) and enters the stomach. Sometimes and under certain conditions, we tend to swallow more air than usual during eating and drinking, like when we eat or drink too fast. This means that more air will accumulate in our esophagus and stomach and eventually erupt as a louder and more forceful burp.
Most of the gas that makes up a burp is swallowed air. However, there is also some gas released from certain beverages (like soda or beer) and also some produced during chemical digestion in the stomach. Some gas becomes trapped in the esophagus and stomach while the rest passes lower down into the bowels. Eventually the gas in the stomach and bowels are expelled as a belch with varying degrees of force.
Causes of Belching After Eating and Drinking
It is important to note that belching is not a symptom but frequent and excessive belching is considered to be a symptom. There are several possible causes of frequent and excessive belching after eating and drinking. Some of these causes may present with frequent and excessive belching throughout the day, which is unrelated to meals. However, even in these cases eating food and drinking beverages tend to worsen the belching symptoms.
Read more on belching constantly.
Eating or drinking too fast
One of the most common reasons for frequent belching is eating or drinking too fast. This causes excessive air swallowing. For some people, eating or drinking too fast is a habit while others may do so because of limited time, excessive hunger or thirst. The greater the air intake, the more air that will accumulate within the stomach. It is gradually passed out as belches over a period of time after eating or drinking.
Gassy drinks are another common cause of excessive belching after drinking as well as after eating if these beverages are consumed with a meal. Most of these fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide in large quantities. Not all the gas is released immediately and may be gradually expelled from the beverage when in the stomach. Sodas, energy drinks, carbonated water and other beverages with gas are commonly consumed as part of the modern diet.
A blocked nose may also lead to freqeunt belching after eating or drinking. As a result of nasal congestion, a person has to breathe through the mouth. This causes constant air swallowing. In addition there is rapid and deep breathing between bites of food as a person cannot eat and breathe through the mouth at the same time. This leads to increased air swallowing while eating and drinking.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Commonly referred to as acid reflux, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a common condition that affects both children and adults. It is more likely to be a chronic problem in adults, especially as a person get older. The stomach acid, enzymes, foods and fluids in the stomach are pushed upwards into the esophagus. This is due to a weakened or dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Heartburn is the typical symptom of acid reflux.
Any obstruction in the movement of food and fluids can also cause an accumulation in air and other gases within the stomach. This blockage is known as delayed gastric emptying and it is usually not a complete blockage. It may occur with paralysis of the stomach muscles, a mass at the outlet of the stomach or an abnormally narrowed outlet. In addition food may ferment due to its prolonged stay in the stomach thereby contributing further to gas.
Frequent belching is also a symptom of Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) infection of the stomach. These bacteria are able to withstand the stomach acid and burrow into the stomach wall. It is a common infection of the stomach that causes gastritis and may persist for months or even years. The frequent burping does not only occur with eating or drinking but there may be excessive belching after meals.
Lactose intolerance is a common condition which results in symptoms like gas after consuming dairy. A lack of the digestive enzyme, lactase, hampers the digestion of the milk sugar lactose. This undigested lactose causes a gastrointestinal upset. Some people will react even after a little dairy whereas others will only experience symptoms after consuming large quantities. One of the symptoms is excessive gas, which is expelled as burping or flatulence.
Hiatal hernia is another condition where there may be symptoms like frequent and excessive burping. It occurs when a portion of the stomach is able to squeeze through the opening in the diaphragm that lies between the chest and abdominal cavities. The symptoms tend to worsen after eating.
Irritable bowel syndrome
The exact reason why frequent and excessive burping occurs in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unclear. It is a commonly reported symptom. Accumulation of gas is also sometimes thought to be the cause of bloating that is another common symptom of IBS, along with abdominal cramps and altered bowel habit. However, the frequent burping is due to gas and accumulation of gas has not been conclusively proven to be a cause of bloating in IBS.