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Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Tell Me Why |

Why Do We Burp?

Why Do We Burp?

A burp (sometimes called a belch or by its medical term, eructation) is the release of gas from the digestive tract (in this case, the esophagus and stomach) through the mouth. It is part of the body natural clearing mechanism for removing excessive gas in the digestive tract (gastrointestinal tract).

There are number of different factors that cause burping or belching. The most common one is the swallowing of air while eating or drinking. When you eat or drink, you swallow air at the same time as you swallow your food or liquid. The trapped air (gases such as nitrogen and oxygen) in the stomach build up and rise to the upper stomach creating a pressure in surrounding area thus, causing a sensation of the need to belch.

This excessive gas accumulation is then forced (regurgitated) out of the stomach and released (belched) back up for relief through the esophagus and eventually through the mouth as a burp. Interestingly, burping can be caused by swallowing air (aerophagia) when one is nervous or anxious and even unconsciously out of habit.

drinking carbonated beverage

Drinking carbonated beverages (e.g. sodas, beer and champagne containing carbon dioxide to make it fizzy), talking while eating, eating too fast, chewing gum, sucking through a straw, sucking candy, chewing tobacco, smoking a pipe or cigarettes as well as, eating onions, chocolates and drinking alcohol are some other causes that can cause (trigger or aggravate) belching. Burping (belching) can sometime be a symptom of indigestion.

Common diabetes drugs metformin and Byetta can cause burping, especially at higher doses. This often resolves in a few weeks. Burping combined with other symptoms such as dyspepsia, nausea and heartburn may be a sign of an ulcer or hiatal hernia, and should be reviewed by a physician. Other causes of burping include: food allergy, gallbladder problems, acid reflux disease, H. pylori, and gastritis.

In microgravity environments burping is normally associated with regurgitation. The valve at the top of the stomach (the gastroesophageal junction) does not produce a tight seal, and in the absence of gravity, the stomach contents tend to float near this loose seal, making them likely to come up along with the expelled air. Inability to burp is uncommon, and chest pain caused by dysfunction of the belch reflex is rare.

Burping can also be caused intentionally from being humorous or through learned behaviors. It can be done intentionally out of entertainment of being humorous by children and some adults alike. In some eastern cultures, a belch after a good meal is considered to be a compliment for the chef. It is as a sign showing appreciation of a satisfied eater.

Some cultures, notably Chinese and Indian, regard burping as acceptable in certain situations. In Japan, burping during a meal is considered bad manners. In Middle Eastern countries it is not acceptable to burp out loud, and one should silence one’s burp, or at least pretend to do so.

In others, particularly Western cultures, such as North American and European cultures, burping is also deemed socially inappropriate; burping out loud is considered impolite – rude and poor manners. Therefore, burping quietly and covering ones mouth is important and should be accompanied by saying “excuse me” whether your burp is loud or quiet.

Content for this question contributed by Chinie Hidalgo Diaz, resident of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, California, USA