Have you ever thought of burps as mouth farts? If not, you’re welcome. Not only do both of these actions help rid you of extra air trapped inside your body, they’re also totally normal but sometimes still embarrassing. Take comfort in the fact that burping is part of the human condition. Excessive burping, however, shouldn't be.
You might wonder what’s up if you’re suddenly dealing with excessive burping or if it’s dawning on you that other people aren’t quite as prolific burpers as you. Here are potential reasons why you’re a burping machine.
1. You’re swallowing a lot of air.
Burping is your body’s way of getting rid of excess air from your upper digestive tract, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes the extra air comes from gases in your stomach, and sometimes it’s air you swallowed that never quite made it to your stomach at all, Ashkan Farhadi, M.D., gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center and director of MemorialCare Medical Group’s Digestive Disease Project in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF. That second reason is the most common culprit behind burping, per the Mayo Clinic.
So, the thing is that everyone swallows some air during the day, especially while eating. “There is a normal amount of air that typically goes down with food,” Dr. Farhadi says. But you may be swallowing extra air if you eat or drink too quickly, talk while you eat, chew gum or suck on hard candies, drink carbonated beverages, or smoke, the Mayo Clinic says.
There’s also a condition called aerophagia, which happens when you swallow air as a nervous habit even when you’re not doing things like eating or drinking. Along with making you burp a lot, this can cause air to build up in your stomach and make you uncomfortably bloated.
2. You’re eating foods that make you super gassy.
Your standard gas-inducing foods like beans, peas, lentils, cabbage, and onions can cause your daily burp rate to increase. Bacteria in your stomach have to work harder to break down these kinds of foods, which can cause excess gas that escapes your body as a belch, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Depending on how your gastrointestinal tract functions, certain foods like dairy can also create excess gas as your body struggles to break them down. (This is the deal with lactose intolerance, which is when you don’t have enough of the enzyme necessary to properly break down dairy.)
Also, fatty foods slow digestion, giving what you eat more time to ferment and form gases that can come out as burps, the Mayo Clinic says.
3. You have acid reflux or gastrointestinal reflux disease.
Acid reflux happens due to a problem with the sphincter in your esophagus (the tube running from your mouth to your stomach). This sphincter is a strip of muscle that is supposed to keep your stomach contents from backing up into your esophagus, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. If this sphincter is too lax, stomach acid can get into your esophagus and aggravate that tissue.
This can cause heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food, and a feeling like you have a lump in your chest, the Mayo Clinic says. It may also cause burping because your body is trying to clear your esophagus or because you’re swallowing more, Felice Schnoll-Sussman, M.D., director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, tells SELF. “Many times people who experience heartburn may swallow more often to neutralize the acid that is refluxing back up with more alkaline (non-acidic) saliva produced in the mouth,” she explains. “This excessive swallowing may lead to more gas in the stomach and subsequently more belching.”
FYI, if you experience these symptoms of acid reflux at least twice a week but only mildly, or you have moderate to severe acid reflux at least once a week, you may have gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), which basically means this reflux is a chronic issue for you.
4. You have celiac disease.
When you have celiac disease and ingest gluten, a defensive immune response takes place in your small intestine. Over time, this response can damage your small intestine’s lining and make it hard for you properly absorb nutrients. This can lead to a host of symptoms, including anemia due to an iron deficiency, a skin rash, mouth ulcers, headaches and fatigue, the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause acid reflux or heartburn, which as we just covered, can lead to burping.
5. You have irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the large intestine that can cause diarrhea, constipation, and other GI issues. Experts are still working to determine exactly why IBS comes about, but it seems as though it’s rooted in a problem with how the brain and gut interact, according to the NIDDK. This can make the gut too sensitive and influence how your intestinal muscles contract, all of which can induce IBS symptoms.
People with IBS usually have cramping, stomach pain, bloating, and gas along with diarrhea or constipation, the Mayo Clinic says. While all of this can be horribly unpleasant, that buildup of gas in particular is what can lead to extra burping (or farting) in people with IBS, Dr. Farhadi says.
6. You have a peptic ulcer.
A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach or the first part of your small intestine (your duodenum), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
If you’re wondering what causes this so that you can avoid it, that’s valid. Peptic ulcers usually happen due to a kind of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori bacteria that can spread from close contact like kissing and via food and water, the Mayo Clinic says. Although it often doesn’t cause symptoms, sometimes this bacteria can cause stomach inflammation that allows acid to eat away at your digestive tract, resulting in an ulcer. Frequent use of pain relievers such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also cause inflammation in the lining of your stomach and small intestine, the Mayo Clinic says, and in some people, this can lead to peptic ulcers. Other factors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being under a lot of stress, and eating spicy food, can make it harder for these ulcers to heal (though these factors don’t cause them directly).
Symptoms of a peptic ulcer usually include burning stomach pain, feeling sick to your stomach, bloating, having a hard time processing fatty foods, and burping, according to the Mayo Clinic. The burping is usually linked to that excess acid in the stomach, Dr. Farhadi says, which can cause heartburn and a resulting symphony of burps. The fatty food processing issue can simply compound this.
7. You have diabetes or another health condition that can slow food’s movement through your digestive system.
A complication of type 1 or type 2 diabetes called gastroparesis can lead to more burping than usual.
Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the natural movement of the muscles in your stomach, the Mayo Clinic says. Under normal circumstances, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. But gastroparesis interrupts this motility, so your stomach doesn’t empty like it should. “Food lying in the stomach can cause heartburn, which belching is sometimes associated with,” Dr. Schnoll-Sussman says.
This issue can happen with diabetes because, over time, the high blood sugar characteristic of this condition may harm nerves in the stomach that commandeer your GI muscles, the NIDDK explains.
Additional potential causes of gastroparesis include other conditions that impact nerve function, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, which causes a slow metabolism that influences many physical systems like digestion, and viral stomach infections, according to the NIDDK.
You don’t necessarily need to see a doctor if you notice that you’re burping more than usual for a week or two.
It is, however, a good idea to seek help if your burping becomes chronic (meaning, it doesn’t calm down after a week or two), it’s bothering you, or if it interferes with your daily life, Dr. Farhadi says. Your doctor will take things from there and try to figure out the underlying cause.