Burping or belching typically occurs when individuals swallow air while eating a meal. It can also occur after drinking soda or other carbonated beverages. In both of these instances, the ingested air travels back up the esophagus and out of the mouth, triggering a burp. Generally, burping is considered harmless. Smokers and individuals who wear dentures are more likely to have episodes of burping. In addition, individuals who eat too quickly and those who regularly chew gum or suck on hard candies are more prone to burping. Patients who have frequent episodes of burping should visit the doctor to have an examination. In rare cases, frequent burping can be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs treatment.
The conditions outlined below are some of those most commonly seen in patients who experience frequent or constant burping.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disease of the digestive system. It develops when stomach acid irritates the esophagus. In patients with this condition, stomach acid backs up into the esophagus instead of remaining in the stomach. The most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include heartburn and a bitter taste in the mouth. Sometimes, symptoms of heartburn can last for up to two hours. Patients with this condition are typically treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. For example, patients are encouraged to avoid tomatoes, chocolate, citrus fruits, peppermint, coffee, alcohol, and foods high in fat, as these foods and drinks can irritate the esophagus and worsen symptoms. Many patients may need to take antacids or proton pump inhibitors to reduce the production of stomach acid in the body. For patients with severe symptoms of reflux disease, surgery may sometimes be recommended.
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A peptic ulcer is an open sore that occurs on the stomach lining and along the upper part of the small intestine. Up to seventy-five percent of individuals with these ulcers have no symptoms. When symptoms of the ulcers are present, they generally include pain in the stomach, a feeling of fullness or abdominal bloating, frequent burping, and nausea. Many patients also experience heartburn, and they may notice they have trouble tolerating high-fat or fried foods. Patients who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and certain types of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are at an increased risk of developing peptic ulcers. To diagnose stomach ulcers, doctors may order an endoscopy, a test in which a tiny camera is inserted through the mouth so the doctor can see the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Special x-rays may also be ordered. Treatment normally includes prescription medicines to reduce stomach acid. In some cases, patients may be prescribed sucralfate, a cytoprotective medicine that protects the stomach lining. Doctors will also recommend patients reduce or stop their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and they will also advise patients to avoid smoking. Patients may wish to consider eliminating dairy from their diets during treatment; consuming dairy may increase acid production.
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Lactose intolerance refers to an inability to digest lactose, one of the main components of milk and other dairy products. This condition is caused by insufficient production of lactase, an enzyme made by the body needed to effectively digest the lactose in dairy. Symptoms of lactose intolerance often include stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence. Some patients may also experience constipation, nausea, and vomiting. To diagnose this disorder, doctors may need to do blood tests or a test known as a hydrogen breath test. Patients diagnosed as being lactose intolerant may sometimes be able to tolerate a small amount of lactose in their diets, and some enzyme supplements can help patients with this condition digest lactose more easily. However, many patients choose to remove dairy products from their diets completely. These individuals may choose to use non-dairy milk replacements such as coconut, rice, oat, or almond milk. Many non-dairy milk options are fortified with calcium, and patients who are lactose intolerant can also eat fortified tofu and dark green vegetables to ensure they obtain sufficient calcium.
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Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause a stomach infection and lead to the development of stomach ulcers. In addition to frequent belching, patients with this infection may notice they have stomach pain, unintended weight loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and bloating. To diagnose this infection, doctors may test a patient's blood, breath, and stool. Some patients may also need to have an endoscopy. If an infection is found, patients are often prescribed a combination of at least two antibiotics to help clear the bacteria. In addition, patients may also be offered proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid production, and they may be advised to take bismuth subsalicylate, a liquid medication that forms a coating over any ulcers that may be present and protects them from stomach acid. Certain patients might be prescribed histamine blockers to further reduce acid production.
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Gastritis is a painful stomach condition that usually occurs after a meal, and patients experience abdominal pain often accompanied by nausea or vomiting. This ailment may be either acute or chronic. Often, doctors can diagnose the acute form of gastritis through health history and a physical examination. Tests such as an endoscopy, blood tests, and a biopsy of the stomach lining may be needed in chronic or complex cases. To treat gastritis, doctors typically recommend a combination of antacids and proton pump inhibitors. If an infection with H. pylori is present, patients may also need antibiotics, and patients who experience nausea will be prescribed medications to reduce this symptom. Since the chronic form of gastritis may cause significant changes to the stomach lining, patients may need to have an endoscopy every year to monitor this area for new lesions.
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Gastroparesis is a condition characterized by abnormalities in the way the stomach empties itself of food. Experts believe some cases of the condition may be caused by nerve damage. Symptoms of gastroparesis typically include heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, and loss of appetite. Patients may also have changes in blood glucose, and they might unintentionally lose weight and become malnourished. Vomiting a few hours after meals could occur, and patients might notice they feel full after only taking a few bites of food. To diagnose this condition, doctors may perform gastric emptying studies, an upper gastrointestinal x-ray series, and an ultrasound. An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy might be needed, too. Treatment for gastroparesis generally includes a combination of dietary changes and medication. Patients may be asked to avoid raw fruits and vegetables, and certain fruits such as oranges and broccoli should be eliminated. A low-fat diet is recommended, and patients should not drink carbonated beverages. To help with symptom management, doctors can prescribe medications such as metoclopramide to stimulate the stomach muscles, and drugs to reduce nausea and vomiting may also be provided.
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Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune condition in which the small intestine is damaged by gluten. The condition affects approximately one out of every one hundred individuals across the world. Patients with celiac disease may have diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, and nausea. In addition, patients could develop anemia, joint pain, and mouth ulcers, and some may experience problems with their spleen. To diagnose this condition, doctors can perform genetic tests, and patients might also be asked to have an endoscopy. If celiac disease is confirmed, the standard treatment is a gluten-free diet, and the patient must continue this diet throughout their life. Patients typically work with a nutritionist who specializes in this disease, and they help the patient to plan healthy meals. Doctors may recommend patients take supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies, and medications to reduce the inflammation of the intestine might be necessary.
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Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is associated with digestive problems, and it occurs when the pancreas does not make sufficient levels of certain enzymes needed to break down food. Patients with this condition are unable to fully digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and they typically experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and weight loss. Some patients tend to feel full after eating very small amounts. To diagnose exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, doctors will perform blood tests to check the patient's pancreatic enzyme levels. The patient might need to have fecal tests to look for fat in the stool, and MRI scans are helpful in detecting pancreatic inflammation. Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy is usually the first line of treatment for affected individuals, and patients take this in tablet form before every meal or snack. Nutritionists work closely with patients to develop a meal plan that includes sufficient intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrate, and many will also need to take vitamin and mineral supplements. In particular, patients with pancreatic insufficiency need to take vitamin supplements for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and K.
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Dumping syndrome is a digestive condition that occurs as a complication of certain surgical procedures. For example, patients who have an operation to remove part or all of the stomach might develop this syndrome, and those who have had weight loss surgery or esophageal operations could also acquire it. The symptoms associated with this syndrome include abdominal cramps, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Most patients experience symptoms immediately after a meal, and meals high in sucrose and fructose increase the risk of these symptoms. Some patients have late dumping syndrome, meaning their symptoms begin one to three hours after eating. Individuals may develop dumping syndrome many years after having surgery. A detailed medical history and a gastric emptying test are often sufficient to diagnose dumping syndrome, and some patients might also have a blood glucose test. For patients with symptoms that occur just after eating, dietary changes might be enough to cure dumping syndrome within one to three months. Some patients benefit from self-administered injections of octreotide, a drug that reduces diarrhea. Individuals who have late dumping syndrome may be candidates for surgical treatment options. For example, patients who have developed this syndrome after a gastric bypass may need to have the procedure reversed to cure dumping syndrome. Individuals who have had other types of surgery could be cured by having additional operations to reconstruct potentially damaged areas of the digestive system.
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Sorbitol Or Fructose Malabsorption
For patients with sorbitol or fructose malabsorption, cells on the intestine's surface are unable to effectively break down these sugars. As a result, patients might experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating. Some studies have found an association between fructose malabsorption and depression. Doctors are normally able to use a hydrogen breath test to diagnose sorbitol or fructose malabsorption. For patients with these types of absorption problems, doctors recommend eliminating foods containing sorbitol or fructose. For example, patients with fructose malabsorption might be advised to avoid high-fructose fruits like apples, pears, watermelon, and cherries, and they should also avoid honey and agave. Individuals with sorbitol malabsorption will need to avoid dried fruit, sugar-free or diet foods, and some types of bread.