Burping can be loud, quiet, socially acceptable or gross. But how does it work?
Have you ever noticed that we burp more while drinking carbonated drinks?
Burping is one of the ways our body gets rid of the gas. The medical term of burping is eructation. Gas moves from the stomach up the oesophagus and out the mouth, causing eructation.
For regular healthy people, burping is a way to release the extra gas in our stomach. As a natural part of eating, we tend to swallow small amounts of air including nitrogen and oxygen along with our food. This air normally doesn’t make it down to our stomach, so it builds into a small bubble in our oesophagus. The amount of gas trapped here increases as we eat fast, because we breathe in while we’re shoveling in that delicious food. When we have too much gas in our stomach, our body forces it out through a burp. Chewing gum can have a similar effect too.
Today from kids to older people, most people are fond of drinking carbonated drinks. The fizz on our tongues, the distinct stinging and pungent sensation and the bubbles can just make our drinks more fun. However, carbonation also gets a bad rap because to make a fizzy drink, we need to saturate our super cold liquid with carbon dioxide under high pressure. Its bubbles are made up of very small amounts of carbon dioxide that were infused into the water during the manufacturing process. As we drink, carbon dioxide builds up in our stomach. More carbon dioxide bubbles enter our digestive system as we drink more carbonated drinks. When enough of this gas has accumulated, our body will have to expel it. If we drink soda quickly, the amount of air we take in while swallowing may increase. When we eat or drink too quickly, we allow pockets of surrounding air to be swallowed along with our food or beverage. Swallowing a sufficiently large air bubble with our carbonated drinks can cause esophageal discomfort. This swallowed air causes the pressure we feel in our chest or abdomen. Using a straw to drink these carbonated drinks may increase the size and number of air bubbles we swallow, resulting in more gas expulsion afterward.
Is gas only caused by carbonated drinks? Definitely not. Excessive eating or drinking can also cause gas. When the stomach is full or overfilled, it expels gas to make room. If we drink a lot of carbonated drinks, we’ll build up a lot of carbon dioxide. Long and intense periods of gas occur as our stomach processes the liquids within. This can cause mild to severe intestinal discomfort and flatulence, in addition to burping.
Burping is not a disease or a serious problem but excessive burping could be a symptom for a few other conditions such as acid reflux and Heliobacter pylori. However, it could be minimized by avoiding carbonated drinks, food or other factors such as chewing gum, eating hard candy and smoking which cause us to swallow air more frequently. Being more mindful could actually help in minimizing the burp. For instance, eat and drink slowly to swallow less air. Eating on the run increases the air we swallow thus eating should be done in a more relaxed manner. Practice a short walk after eating and also check your denterus frequently as poorly fitting dentures can cause us to swallow excess air while eating.