Belching (burping) means return of air leak from stomach, accompanied by sound resulting from vibration of the upper esophageal sphincter (sphincter separating esophagus from pharynx). Most cases of belching are totally harmless and normal, despite evaluated as socially inappropriate. However, frequent burping can be related to some diseases.


Hasty eating

During hastily swallowing of food and liquids a lot of air gets into stomach and it is subsequently belched out. In some cultures, burping after a meal is polite form of statement that it has been tasty.

Carbonated beverages

Stomach air bubbles arise from carbon dioxide that is dissolved in the beverage. Carbon dioxide then leaves stomach during belching.

Antacids usage

Antacids are used to quickly decrease stomach acidity. These are substances based on carbonates that chemically react with stomach acid by forming water and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is then belched out.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Frequent burping sometimes means disruption of normal anatomical relations between esophagus and stomach that causes return of acidic gastric contents and esophageal lining damage. In addition, heartburn is often present as main symptom of reflux disease.

Impaired gastric emptying

Professionally this is known as gastroparesis. It has a number of causes, quite often it occurs as a complication of long-lasting diabetes. Diabetes impairs function of nerves ensuring the digestive tract motility. This situation leads to food accumulation in the stomach, loss of appetite, frequent belching and bad breath. As a solution, we usually administer drugs to speed up digestive tract movement (prokinetic agents).

Diagnostic approach

In frequent belching, especially when it is accompanied by other symptoms such as intermittent abdominal pain or heartburn, it is possible to perform upper GI endoscopy that can inform us about pathologies in esophagus and stomach.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources