Abdominal pain is pain that originates between the chest and the pelvis. Abdominal pain can be cramp-like, achy, dull, or sharp. It's often called stomachache.
Burping, or belching, is the act of expelling gas from the stomach through the mouth. It usually occurs after the stomach has expanded due to too much swallowed air. Burping releases the air.
Swallowing air into the stomach can cause a bloated feeling, a swollen abdomen, and stomachache, accompanied by burping.
You can swallow air when you eat or drink too quickly or consume carbonated drinks. Rapid breathing or hyperventilating caused by laughter or anxiety can also cause you to swallow air.
Some foods and drinks can also cause stomachache and burping, including foods high in starch, sugar, or fiber. Indigestion or heartburn may also lead to temporary abdominal pain and burping.
Babies and young children may swallow large amounts of air without realizing it, causing discomfort and burping. This is why babies are burped shortly after drinking breast milk or formula.
Frequent abdominal pain and burping may also be caused by conditions including:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- acid reflux disease (GERD)
- gastric and duodenal ulcers
- hiatal hernia
- acute pancreatitis
- some bacterial infections
- internal parasites (such as giardiasis)
- intestinal obstruction
- celiac disease
- some cancers
In most of these cases, abdominal pain and burping will be accompanied by other symptoms.
When to get help
A temporary stomachache and bloating accompanied by burping is rarely a cause for concern. But if burping is uncontrollable, does not relieve a distended stomach, or is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, seek medical help.
Also seek help if abdominal pain and burping are frequent or accompanied by:
- vomiting, especially vomiting blood
- abdominal pain that lasts more than 24 hours
- fever over 101˚F (38˚C)
- pain or burning sensations in the throat or mouth
- chest pain
Treatments for abdominal pain and burping will address the underlying condition.
Many over-the-counter medications can ease stomach pain and burping caused by indigestion or heartburn. Talk to a pharmacist or a medical professional for advice on their use. Always follow package instructions when consuming over-the-counter medications.
If you are belching excessively or if your stomach is distended and you cannot expel the air, lying on your side may help. Adopting a knees-to-chest position can also be helpful. Hold the position until the gas passes.
Avoid eating and drinking quickly, drinking carbonated beverages, and chewing gum if you are experiencing abdominal pain and excessive burping. These may make the problem worse.
Not all causes of abdominal pain and burping can be prevented. You can reduce your risk by:
- maintaining a healthy diet
- drinking plenty of water
- limiting carbonated beverages
- eating slowly
- avoiding talking while eating
Taking probiotic supplements may prevent some cases of indigestion and heartburn.
If you have a digestive condition such as Crohn's disease or irritable bowel disease, follow your doctor's dietary instructions to minimize discomfort and gas.
If you have acid reflux disease, wait at least two hours after eating before lying down. Lying down too soon after eating may cause heartburn.