Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Belching


Definition:

Belching is the act of bringing up air from the stomach.

Alternative Names:

Burping; Eructation; Gas - belching

Considerations:

Belching is most often a normal process. The purpose of belching is to release air from the stomach. Every time you swallow, you also swallow air, along with fluid or food.

The buildup of air in the upper stomach causes the stomach to stretch. This triggers the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus (the tube that runs from your mouth to the stomach) to relax. Air is allowed to escape up the esophagus and out the mouth.

Excessive or repeated belching may be caused by swallowing air without realizing it (aerophagia).

Belching may last longer or be more forceful depending on what is causing it. Symptoms such as nausea, dyspepsia, and heartburn may be relieved by belching.

Causes:
  • Pressure caused by the unconscious swallowing of air
  • Acid reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn
Home Care:

You can get relief by lying on your side or in a knee-to-chest position until the gas passes.

Avoid chewing gum, eating quickly, and eating gas-producing foods and beverages.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Most of the time belching is a minor problem. Call a health care provider if the belching does not go away, or if you also have other symptoms.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit:

Your health care provider will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • Is this the first time this has occurred?
  • Is there a pattern to your belching? For example, does it happen when you are nervous or after you have been consuming certain foods or drinks?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

You may need more tests based on what the health care provider finds during your exam and your other symptoms.

References:

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Dyspepsia, and Functional Chest Pain of Presumed Esophageal Origin. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 139.


Review Date: 10/13/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Belching

Related Links
Request an Appointment Online or call
1-800-789-PENN (7366)
Heartburn
Indigestion
   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2014, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania