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Belching, gas and bloating can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Here's what causes these signs and symptoms — and how you can minimize them.
Belching or passing gas (flatus) is natural and common. Excessive belching or flatus, accompanied by bloating, pain or distention, can occasionally interfere with daily activities or cause embarrassment. But these signs and symptoms usually don't represent any serious underlying condition and are often decreased with simple lifestyle measures.
When belching, gas or bloating interfere with your daily activities, there may be something wrong. Find out how to reduce or avoid gas and gas pains, and when you may need to see your doctor.
Belching, or burping, is your body's way of expelling excess air from your upper digestive tract. Most belching is caused by swallowing excess air. This air most often never even reaches the stomach but accumulates in the esophagus.
You may swallow excess air if you eat or drink too fast, talk while you eat, chew gum or suck on hard candies, drink carbonated beverages, or smoke. Some people swallow air as a nervous habit — even when they're not eating or drinking. This is called aerophagia.
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can sometimes cause excessive belching by promoting increased swallowing. Chronic belching may be related to inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) or to an infection with Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium responsible for some stomach ulcers. In these cases, the belching is accompanied by other symptoms, such as heartburn or abdominal pain.
You can reduce belching if you:
Gas in the small intestine or colon is typically caused by the digestion or fermentation of undigested food, such as plant fiber or certain sugars (carbohydrates), by bacteria found in the colon. Gas can also form when your digestive system doesn't completely break down certain components in foods, such as gluten or the sugar in dairy products and fruit.
Other sources of intestinal gas may include:
To prevent excess gas, it may help to:
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