Is burping normal?
Burping is a very common occurrence. It happens when gas builds up in your intestinal tract. Your body must remove this gas either through burping or flatulence. When you burp, your body is releasing gas upward from your digestive tract through your mouth. Your body might pass gas on average between 14 and 23 times a day.
Often the gas you expel is odorless. This is because your body generally lets out gas that doesn’t smell, such as carbon dioxide and oxygen, among others. Sometimes the gas you expel has been mixed with sulfur somewhere along the digestive tract. This can cause a strong smell when burping or letting out flatus.
Burps that occasionally smell like sulfur or rotten eggs are nothing to be concerned about. Frequent sulfur burps or excessive burping may be the sign of something more serious. Causes of sulfur burps can vary and may include your diet or behaviors, or an underlying medical issue.
What causes sulfur burps?
There is no single cause of sulfur burps. Burping is a normal part of life. You may experience burps more frequently due to behaviors or diet. Burping may also be a sign of another health condition.
Behavior-related causes of burps may be associated with an excess intake of air. You may swallow too much air from:
- eating too quickly
- eating when talking
- drinking carbonated beverages
- drinking from a straw
- chewing gum
- sucking on hard candies
- having loose dentures
Foods and beverages can also cause additional gas in your body. You may find that your body is especially sensitive to certain types of food that result in strong-smelling burps.
Certain foods that can cause a buildup of gas include:
- fried foods
- foods high in fat
- foods and drinks containing lactose
- cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage
- high-fiber foods
- garlic and onions
Sulfur burps may also be caused by an underlying health condition or a medication you take. Some health conditions that may lead to abnormal burping include:
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- peptic ulcer disease
- infections like Helicobacter pylori and giardia infection
When should you see a doctor?
In general, burping is a basic function of your body. You may experience other symptoms related to having too much gas, including
- pain in your abdomen
Burping and these other symptoms shouldn’t be of concern unless they get in the way of your daily life.
See your doctor if you suspect you have an underlying medical condition or if the sulfur burps are accompanied by concerning symptoms like:
These symptoms may indicate that you have a more serious health condition.
How are sulfur burps treated?
Treatment for sulfur burps may be as simple as eliminating certain foods from your diet or changing behaviors that cause you to swallow excess air.
Eliminate foods and beverages that cause too much gas in your body. These can vary from person to person, so pay attention to your body’s response to certain foods and try to avoid ones that result in frequent belching.
Behaviors that result in swallowing extra air should be eliminated. This includes:
- chewing gum
- sucking on hard candies
- eating quickly
- eating while talking
Getting regular exercise may be a behavior that helps prevent burping and other gastrointestinal distress.
Medications that target digestion and gas include:
- antacids, such as Pepcid AC or Tums
- enzyme lactase products
- bismuth-subsalicylate products, like Pepto-Bismol
- alpha-galactosidase products
- simethicone (Mylanta Gas, Gas-X)
Your doctor may determine that you need a prescription medication to relieve symptoms or treat an underlying condition. For example, if you have a bacterial infection causing sulfur burps, you may be prescribed antibiotics.
What is the outlook for sulfur burps?
Sulfur burps and burping throughout the day aren’t conditions to worry about unless they become excessive or occur with other symptoms.
Gas buildup in your body is fairly normal. Sulfur burps accompanied by more serious symptoms should be reviewed by your doctor. These may be a sign of another health condition.
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