How to Treat Indigestion and Burping

A burp — or belch, as medical professionals refer to it — is your digestive system’s way of clearing out excess air.

Every time you swallow while eating or drinking, you also take in a little bit of air. Most of the time, that air never makes it to your stomach. Instead, it stays trapped in your esophagus — the tube between the throat and the stomach — until it comes back up through your mouth as a belch.

Everyone belches — usually three to five times after each meal. Some belches we barely notice; others can be felt and heard.

If your belching seems excessive but you are not in discomfort, it usually is nothing to worry about.

But if you’re belching occurs with frequent indigestion, upset stomach, bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, feeling full quickly while eating, or problems with bowel movements, you should mention these symptoms to your doctor.

Do Certain Foods Trigger Burping?

Certain foods can make you belch more, such as carbonated beverages. If drinks with bubbles make you burp, limit your intake of:

  • Beer.
  • Soda pop.
  • Sparkling/carbonated water.
  • Carbonated malt beverages.
  • Hard ciders, ice teas, and lemonades.
  • Mixers, such as club soda and tonic water.

Also limit your intake of:

  • Greasy or spicy foods that cause heartburn.
  • Acidic foods, like tomatoes.
  • Drinks with caffeine and alcohol.

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What Can Stop Excessive Belching?

Foods and activities that make you swallow air are a major cause of belching. To prevent belching, limit these burp-inducing activities:

  • Chewing gum.
  • Sucking on hard candies.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Eating too fast.
  • Wearing old or loose dentures, which is a common cause of swallowing airand belching in older adults. Air coming into the esophagus through gaps around the dentures can enter the stomach and cause indigestion and abdominal pain. Ask your dentist for a fitting if your dentures are old or loose.

How Can I Treat Excessive Burping?

The best way to treat excessive belching is to avoid the foods and activities that cause indigestion or make it more likely.

Here are some other ways to reduce belching:

  • Chew slowly, with your mouth closed.
  • Avoid products that produce gas, like cabbage, beans, and dairy.
  • Follow a LOW FODMAP diet to help lessen gas/bloating symptoms.
  • Take a walk after eating to help your digestion.
  • Take an antacid.
  • Try drinking warm ginger tea during meals and/or shortly after (not ginger soda or ginger beer).
  • Take an over-the-counter gas remedy like simethicone chewable tablets shortly after your meals.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Belching accompanied by severe indigestion can signal a more serious health problem, including heart attack.

“If your indigestion or burping occurs more than you would expect or more than usual, notify your doctor and ask for additional recommendations,” says

Jennifer Chennat, MD, a UPMC gastroenterologist who specializes in upper-GI treatments.

“At UPMC, we evaluate patients with indigestion and burping and, if clinically appropriate, perform an endoscopic evaluation to rule out gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, upper GI tract inflammation, or peptic ulcer disease.”

If your indigestion is unusual or is accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, or pain radiating to the jaw, neck, or arm, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.