Thursday, 07 November 2013 03:08


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Burping, or bringing up gas, is a normal reflex action in babies after a meal.
Adults, too, may suffer from excessive gas in the stomach, but they can learn
to control the response—if they so choose


Burping (belching) is the involuntary reflex (backward flow) of gas from the stomach and out of the mouth. As a child chews on a mouthful of food he/she takes down some air into the stomach. Babies also swallow air when they suck their milk. The amount of air swallowed varies depending on how hard the baby sucks and how much milk is available from the breast or bottle (Jacoby and Youngson, 2005).

Adults also swallow excessive amounts of air which results in uncontrollable burps. Carbonated (fizzy) drinks contain dissolved gas, which is quickly released in the stomach. This can also cause burping, as can air swallowed to cool the taste of very hot food or to hide the taste of unpleasant food. People who eat too quickly and swallow a lot of air are often prone to burping and sharp stomach pain (see Indigestion).

How does Burping Happen?


Once the air is in the stomach, the air can escape in two directions. First, it can pass on with the food into the small intestine. This passage is closed immediately after a meal to ensure that food is adequately digested in the stomach before being allowed to progress down to the gut (Brett and Carson, 2007). Alternatively, the air can return back up the esophagus (the tube that extends from the throat to the stomach) to the mouth (Jacoby and Youngson, 2005). Any excessive build-up of gas will put pressure on the valve at the stomach entrance, which is also closed to prevent food from being regurgitated (vomited). As the stomach churns away and digests the food, the pressure of the air builds up on the stomach valve and may release up the oesophagus without warning causes a person to burp (Brett and Carson, 2007).

 How Can I Prevent Burping


Burping is a natural phenomenon. Children are usually taught to control their burps, since the habit is considered antisocial in most cultures. Eating more slowly and not swallowing too much air along with hot or spicy food will prevent excessive burping (Jacoby and Youngson, 2005).

In babies up to six months old, burping may cause concern. After being fed, babies should not be put directly to bed, because the air in their stomach could lead to pain and discomfort. Cuddling will be appreciated, during which babies may burp a little naturally. Parents will often use traditional methods of bringing up gas if a baby appears uncomfortable, such as placing the baby over a shoulder and patting his or her back gently but firmly. Preparations designed to help eliminate gas, often containing an herb such as fennel, may help in some cases (Jacoby and Youngson, 2005).







Jacoby, D.B. and Youngson, R.M. (2005) Encyclopedia of Family Health. Volume: 3. Edition: 3rd: New York.


Brett, A. and Carson, A. (2007) Gut Instincts: A Practical Guide to a Healthy Digestive System: Crows Nest, N.S.W.


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