What’s causing your stomach wind?

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Persistent belching may be a sign of underlying digestive system disorders. (Thinkstock photo)

Belching and burping after a meal can be quite embarrassing, especially if you are on a date. What causes this stomach wind — and how can you prevent it?

Occasional belching or burping is normal and nothing to worry about. But persistent belching and burping could indicate underlying digestive system disorders.

“In most instances, burping is due to excess air intake. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can help control stomach wind and alleviate the discomfort of belching,” says Dr Ling Khoon Lin, Senior Consultant and Head, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

What causes stomach wind?

There are two main causes of belching and burping:

  • Swallowing excess air
    Eating or drinking too quickly can cause you to swallow too much air. Belching or burping is the body’s way of releasing that excess air. Sucking on sweets, drinking through straws, chewing gum and wearing loose dentures may all trigger swallowing of excess air.

    Belching is common in people with heartburn or acid reflux. When stomach acids rise up the oesophagus, it’s natural to swallow more to lessen the discomfort. Belching helps to release the excess air associated with constant swallowing.

Related article: Suffer from chronic cough and sore throat? You could have GERD!

  • Underlying digestive problems
    Persistent belching could be a sign of digestive conditions that require medical treatment. Some examples are delayed gastric emptying (gastroparesis) and peptic ulcer disease (painful sores in the stomach lining). Gallstones and gallbladder problems can, in some cases, cause symptoms such as belching. Even more rarely, cancer of the stomach or the oesophagus can explain the severe burping.

    If the burping is persistent and accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, pain, bloody stools, weight loss or fever, you should consult a doctor.

Related article: Alarming gastric pain symptoms to watch out for

Tips to prevent excessive belching and burping

1. Eat and drink slowly to avoid swallowing excess air. Avoid talking when you chew.

2. Avoid sucking on hard candy.

3. Cut down on carbonated drinks and beer. These drinks release carbon dioxide gas which may worsen belching and burping.

Related article: Get 4 more tips on how to prevent excessive belching

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By Teresa Cheong for HealthXchange.com.sg.

Health Xchange's articles are meant for informational purposes only and cannot replace professional surgical, medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment.