Everybody burps. Gas is a normal part of life. It’s how your digestive system expels excess air, so that you don’t blow up like a balloon every time you drink a soda.
Sulfur burps are burps that smell like rotten eggs. Most burps come from swallowed air that gets trapped in the esophagus and burped back out, without ever reaching the stomach. But some of the air you swallow goes through the esophagus into the stomach, where it mixes with digestive gases before being burped back up. These digestive gases, namely hydrogen sulfide gas, are the source of your burp odor.
Sulfur burps are typically harmless, but if your burping becomes excessive it could signal an underlying digestive problem.
There are several conditions that can cause burps that smell like sulfur. These include:
Most sulfur burps are caused by something you ate. Certain foods are richer in sulfur than others. When your body breaks down these sulfur compounds, your gas may smell worse.
There’s a common stomach infection caused by a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). It’s so common that it may be present in more than half the world’s population. For unknown reasons, only some people experience symptoms. Symptoms of an H. pylori infection can include frequent burping, bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a type of chronic acid reflux. Stomach acid, which can smell of sulfur, rises into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Sometimes, the stomach contents are partially regurgitated.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The digestive symptoms of these conditions can be quite severe.
Food intolerances happen when your digestive system reacts poorly to a certain food, causing symptoms of digestive distress such as gas, nausea, and diarrhea. Lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is a common digestive irritant. Many people are also intolerant of gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and oats.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive condition affecting the large intestine. Symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea or constipation.
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that has been used in traditional Ayuvedic medicine for more than 4,000 years. Among other things, it’s used to reduce gas and soothe heartburn. An older study found that people taking turmeric supplements showed statistically significant improvement in both flatulence and heartburn symptoms.
A 2004 study found that the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome improved in two-thirds of the study participants taking turmeric extract.
2. Green tea
Green tea aids digestion and promotes overall health. In many cultures, mint tea is the go-to treatment for an upset stomach. A mint-flavored green tea has the added benefit of freshening your breath.
Chamomile tea is another natural remedy for gas. It can also help you relax and have a restful night’s sleep. Here’s what you should know about chamomile tea if you have acid reflux.
Fennel is a traditional treatment to strengthen and sooth the digestive system. Many people in India chew fennel seeds after every meal. Fennel can also be taken as a tea to reduce gas and bloating. It even freshens the breath.
A 2013 study suggested that cumin extract improved the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including gas and bloating. Another study suggested that black cumin effectively works as an antibiotic to fight the common digestive infection H. pylori. It may also treat the symptoms of dyspepsia (heartburn).
Anise is a flowering plant that tastes like black licorice. It can help fight gas and has proven antimicrobial properties that can help prevent digestive infections. It’s best taken as a tea or extract.
Caraway seeds have been used in medicinal healing since the times of the ancient Greeks. People still use them today around the world for a variety of different purposes, including flatulence, indigestion, and heartburn. Try brewing a teaspoon of caraway seeds into 1 liter of boiling water to make a soothing tea. Caraway seeds also have an antibiotic effect and have shown promise treating common digestive infections like H. pylori.
Ginger is a common do-it-yourself cure for gas. Try brewing a delicious ginger tea or work some fresh ginger root into your next recipe. But skip the ginger ale, which may actually increase the amount of gas in the body. Here are the facts about ginger and acid reflux.
Sometimes home remedies aren’t enough. Fortunately, there are variety of anti-gas treatments available at your local pharmacy.
- Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) is your best bet for reducing the sulfur smell of your burps.
- Simethicone (Gas-X, Mylanta) helps bind gas bubbles together so you have more productive burps when you want to.
- Beano contains a digestive enzyme that helps break down those hard-to-digest sugars found in carbohydrates, vegetable, and beans.
- Enzyme lactase (Lactaid, Lactrase, and Dairy Ease) helps people with lactose intolerance digest dairy.
- Probiotics contain good bacteria that promote healthy digestion. These good bacteria may replace some of the bad bacteria causing that smelly gas byproduct.
Eliminating sulfur-rich foods from your diet may help reduce the odor of your burps.
Vegetables high in sulfur include:
- Brussels sprouts
- bok choy
- collard greens
- mustard greens
Other sources of sulfur include:
- lentils and beans
Avoid certain activities to prevent the swallowing of air:
- drinking carbonated beverages (soda and beer)
- swallowing air before you burp
- wearing ill-fitting dentures
- chewing gum
- sucking on hard candies
- eating or drinking too quickly
- drinking from a straw
Sulfur burps can be annoying, but they’re rarely a sign of a serious problem. Some alternative remedies have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of stomach and digestion troubles. See if these options help you.
Almost all cases of smelly burps are nothing to worry about. However, if you have any new symptoms or there are any sudden changes, you should consult your doctor.