Belching, also known as burping or eructation, is the body’s way of expelling excess air from the stomach. In some cultures, burping after a meal signifies a person’s enjoyment of the food he ate. In places like Taiwan, Egypt, and China, it is considered the highest form of flattery for the chef or cook. However, burping in other countries like Germany and Italy is considered extremely rude. Even if people have several cultural interpretations of belching or burping, one thing remains true – it is a natural part of the body’s digestive process.
The digestive process of humans is relatively simple. First, the food is broken down into smaller pieces in the oral cavity with the help of the teeth, tongue, and saliva. The food will then go down to the esophagus and into the stomach. Next, the stomach produces gastric juices and enzymes to break down nutrients used by the body as energy. Sometimes, a person swallows a lot of gas while swallowing food. Usually, the air does not reach the stomach; instead, it stays trapped in the esophagus until it escapes. This process is called belching.
Burping as many as four times after a hearty meal can help soothe an upset stomach and is considered normal. However, too much or frequent burping or belching may be a sign of underlying health conditions like GERD or acid reflux, stomach lining inflammation, ulcers, and heart complications. This article talks about the possible causes of belching.
Aerophagia is characterized by the repetitive and excessive swallowing of air. Although it is normal for people to swallow or gulp air while eating, laughing, and talking, people with aerophagia ingest too much. As a result, they experience discomfort and may suffer from excessive flatulence, bloating, and belching.
Taking in too much air might seem simple to avoid. However, several reasons can cause aerophagia. First, eating, drinking, talking, and breathing can cause aerophagia. Eating quickly, chewing gum, smoking, wearing loose-fitting dentures, talking while eating, and drinking through a straw are some habits that can lead to aerophagia and belching. Medical conditions can also result in aerophagia, like noninvasive ventilation, sleep apnea, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Recent studies show that people with anxiety are more likely to develop aerophagia. Experts suggest that aerophagia is a learned behavior to cope with stress and anxiety. For example, when observed, people with excessive belching burp more when they know they’re being watched.