Belching occurs when your body rids the stomach of excess air or gas, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). While this process is normal, it can be embarrassing when it's noisy; moreover, belching may be the sign of a moderate to serious digestive issue. Most causes of belching can be ameliorated through simple lifestyle changes.
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Swallowing too much air can cause frequent belching. When you eat too quickly or drink through a straw, you can take in too much air and belch repeatedly, according to the Mayo Clinic. Poorly fitted dentures, gum and hard candy as well as smoking can cause excess swallowing of air that can lead to frequent belching. Carbonated drinks and beer emit carbon dioxide gas, which also triggers belching.
The ACG notes that people often swallow air without even noticing it. This is often associated with nervousness, according to the Mayo Clinic. The ACG advises that when lifestyle modifications, such as eating more slowly and relaxation techniques, have been exhausted and the problem of excess air swallowing and frequent belching persists, mental health treatment may be warranted. This can include behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach and is a common cause of frequent belching. Acute chronic gastritis is most often the result of a Helicobacter pylori infection. Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that, according to the ACG, can be treated successfully with antibiotics when detected by a doctor or digestive specialist. Other digestive disorders, such as peptic ulcers or gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying), can prompt repeated belching, according to the Mayo Clinic. Experts warn that if frequent belching is accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation or blood in the stool, you should consult your health care provider promptly.
Acid reflux, also known as gastro-oseophageal reflux disease (GERD), is another common cause of frequent belching. GERD creates a backup of stomach acid in the oesophagus. If you swallow repeatedly in an attempt to alleviate the situation, you often swallow too much air and belch frequently. Several over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat acid reflux. The ACG contends that anti-gas medications, such as simethicone, do very little, if anything, for the problem of persistent belching.
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