What causes foul odors when you burp?

Updated July 20, 2017

Everybody burps. Burping expels air or other gases from the stomach through the mouth. Foul-smelling odours that are a result of burping can indicate a problem in the digestive system. They can also be caused by certain foods. Observation of eating habits and/or any other health issues can lead to prevention of foul-smelling burps.

Sulphur Burps

Sulphur burps are burps that are accompanied by a foul smell that resembles rotten eggs. Many people burp non-odorous air after eating or drinking, while others are prone to burping air that has a rotten egg smell. This is unpleasant and often embarrassing. Health Hype points out that the smell of sulphur comes from hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which is a gas originating from sulphur-containing proteins in certain foods after they are broken down in the stomach or small intestine. Sulphur burps can be accompanied by intestinal bloating and gas.

Foods Containing Sulfur

Food with high protein content may sometimes lead to sulphur burps, and therefore should be avoided when attempting to eliminate the condition. Highly proteinous foods may take longer to digest, and if food remains in the stomach for a long time, hydrogen sulphide is produced. Some vegetables that contain sulphur include broccoli, asparagus, onion and Swiss chard. Eggs should be avoided. Fruits such as avocado and bananas have a high sulphur content. Beans and lentils are other foods that cause sulphur burps.

Medical Conditions

Foul-smelling burps are usually caused by bacteria in the stomach and digestive tract. According to Home Remedies, bacteria, such as helicobacter pylori and the parasite giardia, are known to cause infections in the intestines and stomach. Sulphur burps may occur as a symptom of these infections. Other conditions such as Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome may be causes of foul-smelling burps. Medications can also contain sulphur, therefore causing odorous burps.

Treatment and Prevention

One way to get rid of sulphur burps is to eliminate sulphur-containing foods from your diet. Foods high in fibre, such as fresh fruits, lettuce and cabbage, are recommended to clean the stomach and bowels. The consumption of dairy products should be greatly reduced. Drinking water and herbal tea can also help to remedy the problem. Pepto-Bismol may aid in reducing the amount of gas in the stomach. If you suspect foul-smelling burps are a symptom of a more serious problem, or if they are accompanied by vomiting and diarrhoea, see a physician.

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About the Author

Jennifer Irvin has been writing for Demand Studios since 2010. She was an assistant editor for the University of Baltimore's literary journal, "Welter," in which her essay and poem were published. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Baltimore.