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Belching is the act of bringing up air from the stomach. It produces a characteristic sound.
Burping; Eructation; Gas - belching
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.
As the air builds up in the upper stomach, it causes stretching of the stomach that triggers the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to relax. This lets air escape up the esophagus and out the mouth.
Excessive or repeated belching may be caused by unconsciously swallowing air (aerophagia).
- Pressure caused by the unconscious swallowing of air
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
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.
See also: Learning to manage the symptoms of GERD
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Belching is usually a minor symptom. However, 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?
Diagnostic tests will depend on the findings of the physical examination, and other signs or symptoms you have with the belching.
Mayer EA.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.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.