Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Are you burping too much? MakatiMed points out when the release can be a sign of a problem


There are two things that humans must be able to do right after being born. Crying, of course, and the other one? Burping. All of us in this world have been coaxed or massaged into letting out gas in our first few months on earth. And even when we’re all grown up, this bodily release (that usually comes with a distinct sound for each person) still offers the same comfort and satisfaction, especially after having a lip-smacking meal or drinking a refreshing can of soda. Burping, no matter how others see it as embarrassing in social settings, can be good for us—but only when it’s not too much.

For Carlo M. Cornejo, MD, Section Chief of Gastroenterology of the top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), understanding when burping becomes excessive is crucial in maintaining digestive health. “The average person burps around 3-6 times after eating or drinking. You might burp more frequently after drinking carbonated beverages like sodas but overall, that’s a pretty healthy range,” explains Dr. Cornejo.

Simple excess burping should be resolved by eating and drinking more slowly and avoiding carbonated drinks and certain foods like hard candy. “Eating and drinking too quickly and sucking on hard candy causes you to swallow more air than normal. Dropping these habits should reduce belching significantly,” adds Dr. Cornejo.

MakatiMed, however, points out that burping combined with other symptoms can be a cause for concern. For instance, excess belching that comes with an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as GERD. “GERD happens when the acidic contents of your stomach, known as reflux, move up into your esophagus. Reflux itself causes the urge to burp,” says Dr. Cornejo. “If you have GERD, you can take antacids to relieve the symptoms or avoid acidic foods and drinks like anything fried and cheesy as well as sodas and alcohol.”

Diarrhea is another symptom that when combined with burping suggests a more serious underlying health issue. The two often go together in cases of food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, or stomach flu. “All of these can happen when you eat or drink something unclean and disruptive to your gastrointestinal system. Though these conditions are common and typically go away on their own, severe cases can be life-threatening if left unchecked,” warns Dr. Cornejo. “In this case, you may be asked to take more fluids, antibiotics, and probiotics to avoid dehydration, complications, and speed up recovery.”

On a more serious note, burping that comes with abdominal discomfort or pain, unintentional weight loss, or vomiting with or without blood can be a sign of certain types of gastrointestinal cancers like stomach, pancreatic, or esophageal cancer with Dr. Cornejo pointing out, “Further diagnostic tests like endoscopy and CT scanning can help us accurately determine if cancer is indeed present.”

“What I’d like to emphasize is for you to pay more attention to your body. Take note of even the most mundane bodily functions like burping as they could give you a hint on what’s happening inside your body,” Dr. Cornejo. “Excessive burping along with the alarming symptoms mentioned can be your body’s way of telling you to seek medical advice as soon as possible.”

For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email, or visit Follow @IamMakatiMe on Facebook and Twitter.

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