June 26, 2022/Digestive

Why Do We Burp?

Burping is a normal bodily function

woman with soda burps

You’re in the middle of a dinner with friends, when all suddenly, you get the urge to burp. You quickly grab your napkin and try to discreetly cover up it up.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

While it can be embarrassing, it happens to all of us. And whether you call it a burp or a belch, it’s a normal bodily function.

“Burping is your body’s way of expelling excess gas from your stomach,” says gastroenterologist Alison Schneider, MD.

Dr. Schneider explains what causes us to burp, how we can avoid it and when we should seek help for excessive burping.

What causes burping?

“When we swallow food or drinks, it goes through a tube called the esophagus and into the stomach,” explains Dr. Schneider. “It’s there that stomach acid and digestive enzymes work to break food down into nutrients that we use for energy. Gas is created in this process.”

We can also swallow air along with food or drinks. Those gases can come back up through your esophagus. Burping is a way for our body to release the excess gas.

“Carbonated beverages are most commonly associated with swallowing air and are the most common reason people burp,” says Dr. Schneider. “Most of the time, that air actually stays trapped in the esophagus until it comes back up.”

If you have heartburn you may also experience burping.

“Heartburn is the condition when acid flows backward from your stomach into the esophagus, a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach,” further explains Dr. Schneider. “This is also known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). During these events, it is possible to experience burping or belching.”

Is it normal to burp?

Even though it may seem gross, burping is a normal bodily function.

“Burping as many as four times after a meal is considered normal,” says Dr. Schneider.

If you’re burping a lot, your diet may be to blame.

“You’re more likely to swallow air and burp if you eat too quickly, drink carbonated beverages, chew gum, suck on hard candies, drink through a straw or have dentures that do not fit well,” she adds. “There are also foods that can be associated with excess burping and belching and people may find that they have specific foods that are more likely to cause these symptoms.”

Here are a few tips to avoid burping:

  • Eat or drink slowly.
  • Avoid foods like broccoli, cabbage, beans and dairy products.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages like soda and beer.
  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Move after eating.
  • Use an antacid.

Advertisement

When is excessive belching a problem?

While burping is a normal function, it can be associated with certain conditions like:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)/acid reflux. “This is when the acid in the stomach flows back into your esophagus and can cause heartburn or regurgitation symptoms,” says Dr. Schneider.
  • Indigestion. Also known as dyspepsia, this is a common condition associated with discomfort in your upper abdominal area. Symptoms can also include burping, belching, bloating, heartburn and nausea.
  • Gastritis. “This means inflammation of the stomach lining,” says Dr. Schneider. “This can be associated with pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, feeling full soon after eating a meal, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.”
  • Helicobacter pylori/ulcers. The bacteria can cause an infection in the stomach. It can be associated with gastritis and stomach ulcers. Symptoms include stomach pain, fullness, bloating, belching and nausea.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is a chronic condition associated with bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation.

For any of the above, it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and determine if additional evaluation or treatment is needed.

“If burping or belching too much is interfering with your daily life or if pain or other symptoms accompany this symptom, this may indicate another underlying illness requiring treatment,” warns Dr. Schneider.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person holding cup of hot tea, with honey jar floating in background
February 23, 2024/Ear, Nose & Throat
Why Your Throat Tickles — And How To Stop It

Often, a throat tickle is due to a cold, allergies or GERD — but see a doctor if it won’t go away

person holding to go cup of coffee
November 12, 2023/Nutrition
Is It OK To Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach?

It’s fine for most, but it can worsen heartburn and ulcers if you’re prone to them

Illustration of the colon, large intesitine, small intestine and colon in the body with a pain icon above.
August 29, 2023/Digestive
8 Signs That Irritable Bowel Syndrome’s Causing Your Digestive Troubles

Symptoms of IBS usually include abdominal pain, coupled with bloating and more

Patient with back pain walking into doctor's appointment while doctor holds door.
August 1, 2023/Chronic Pain
7 Causes of Chronic Pain

Arthritis, migraines and endometriosis are common causes of chronic pain

Person drinking Xiao Yao San tea and reading.
April 23, 2023/Wellness
Benefits and Uses of Xiao Yao San

This traditional Chinese medicine formulation may help with stress, depression and more

Person at home curled up on couch with abdominal pain.
March 26, 2023/Digestive
Understanding the Differences Between IBD and IBS

IBD is an inflammatory disorder, while IBS is a group of symptoms, but both need treatment

Elderly person on couch with hand on chest suffering from heartburn.
November 27, 2022/Digestive
Why Does Heartburn Get Worse as You Age?

Time can light the match on that fiery feeling in your chest, but there are ways to find relief

Graphic of woman sitting on a toilet while looking at her phone.
May 10, 2022/Digestive
How Often and How Long Should It Take You to Poop?

Everyone poops, but here’s what may affect how often you visit the toilet

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad