What Does Burping on an Empty Stomach Indicate? Is It Normal for Your Body?

We may have known friends or family members who are sure to burp after every single meal, even there are people who are guaranteed to win at burping contests! As burping is perfectly normal and our body is functional enough to produce burps under specific conditions, we assume that burping is ‘normal’ every time, although the scientific facts will prove otherwise.

Burping after waking up in the morning, feeling bloated a few hours after having a heavy meal isn’t something you should be worried about if this happens once in a while. However, constant and persistent burping at this time of the day requires consideration.

Now you will know why burping on an empty stomach or passing gas frequently and unusually is considered risky for the human body. Before you look into the reasons why you have burps after you wake up, let’s know a little about the mechanisms and causes of burping.

What Is Burping or Belching?

The physiological process of expelling out excess gas through the oral cavity, developed while swallowing food or produced internally in the digestive tracts is called burping. This is also known as belching, ructus and eructation in medical terms. For human beings, it is usually caused during the normal eating and drinking process. Burping too much or not burping at all is certainly negative.

What Is Burping or Belching?

Lifestyle, dietary habits, process of food intake and some associated factors are rendered responsible for the production of burping. People invariably associate burping with the type of food they consume and the amount they eat but this is not always the case.

Why Do You Burp?

Whenever there is any build up of extra gases inside the digestive tract, the stomach gets distended with those gases. It is the process of how the excessive gas is removed from our body.

Although labelled as offensive and uncourteous in different communities, passing out gas by producing burp or fart is a very usual human behaviour. Most people produce a few pints of gas in their body and may discharge gas 10-20 times daily.

These colorless and odorless gases are composed from the vapours of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and methane. They are odorless in normal conditions but you will occasionally find smelly gas coming out from the mouth in cases of bacterial infection in the digestive tracts. This definitely demands medical attention. If the expelled gas does not have an unpleasant smell, then you are good to go.

Certain carbohydrates like starch, sugar etc are not digested in the small intestine. When there is undigested food, gas develops in the large intestine by the help of gut bacteria. This process produces other gases like hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane which is expelled from the rectum. So, you may experience more symptoms like flatulence, bloating along with burping.

Is It Okay to Burp After Meals?

Burping is actually a sign that your digestion is functioning properly due to the introduction of air along with swallowed food and drink. Many consider belching as a practice to reduce abdominal discomfort.

Although for babies, burping is more essential than it is for adults since it helps to get rid of some of the air that has been swallowed. Repeatedly patting on the back of the baby does the trick or changing the position while holding the baby on your lap or on their belly might help. Not being burped often can make the babies have a distended tummy, irritated and they may throw up.

Babies can swallow a huge amount of air without realizing which leads to stomach pain and pain. This is why babies are burped after drinking breast milk or formula.

What Causes Burping?

There are a number of factors responsible for burping, be it food, or any habit that revolves around your lifestyle. The reasons are mentioned below:

Foods

Some gas- producing and common items that can trigger the formation of gas in the body are:

  • Carbonated beverages and fizzy drinks.
  • Chewing gum and hard candy
  • Dairy products and milk.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprout etc
  • Beans, lettuce, tomato, onion (has high acidic content)
  • Citrus fruits like orange, tangerine etc
  • Apple, peach, pears etc.
  • Whole grain foods in high amount
  • Sugars found in sugar free foods (Mannitol, sorbitol etc)

 Daily Habits

  • Eating too quickly without chewing properly for the food to break down.
  • Having too much fatty or greasy food all at once.
  • Having any drink or water with a straw that leads to swallowing air
  • Spicy food
  • Stress
  • Smoking

Medications

  • Pain relievers like Naproxen, Aspirin etc
  • Anti diabetic drugs called Acarbose
  • Diarrhoea medicines like Lomotil.
  • Bulking agents like Metamucil.
  • Multivitamin tablets.

Health Conditions

  • Aerophagia swallowing of air during eating or drinking)
  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • Gastritis (Inflammation in the inner lining of the stomach)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or simply acid reflux
  • Peptic ulcer disease (PUD)
  • Food Intolerance (Lactose, gluten etc) or malabsorption of other carbohydrates (Mannitol and fructose)
  • Helicobacter pylori infection in the stomach
  • Pancreatic disorders (Pancreatitis, bile duct stone etc)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn’s disease.

Why Do You Burp on an Empty Stomach?

This is a very usual complaint among patients caused due to multiple factors. Though harmless and painless, people experience this mostly after 30 years of age. But unfortunately most people ignore the signs assuming this is an absolute normal phenomenon.

Under normal condition, when you say that you have been feeling bloated or you have been burping after waking up with an empty stomach, the reasons can be:

  • If you are a mouth breather, you swallowed too much air in the stomach which caused you to burp.
  • If you take too many fizzy drinks the day before, it accumulates in the stomach throughout the day and it gets expelled in the morning when you wake up.
  • If you have consumed heavy fatty food in an exceedingly high amount that made your stomach full and it couldn’t be digested properly, you will be bloated and might as well burp continuously even though you are in an empty stomach.
  • If there are undigested or unabsorbed dietary carbohydrates in your body, it can cause production of gas by the bacteria in the gut.
  • If you have been starved for too long, the inner lining of the stomach wall will produce acid which will trigger burping.

However, there are some serious diseases that cause burping on an empty stomach which has been already mentioned in the previous headline. Aerophagia, irritable bowel syndrome, bacterial infections and acid reflux are most common when it comes to burping on an empty stomach. Out of these four, the former one is practically innocuous compared to the other gastrointestinal disorders and for these signs, consultation with a doctor is a MUST.

Aerophagia

This is by far the most familiar reason why people burp unusually. Once the swallowed air reaches the stomach or esophagus, you feel the urge to release it out of your system by belching.

Acid Reflux (Gerd)

This happens when the acid from the stomach flows upward into the esophagus. When this happens, you swallow excess air in order to ease this discomfort you have been experiencing. That is when you feel the necessity to burp. Some of the symptoms that may accompany burping are persistent heartburn, nausea, indigestion and regurgitation.

Acid Reflux

H. Pylori Bacteria Infection

These bacterias might be a reason for burping and feeling bloated after waking up. They metabolize ammonia leading to accumulation of gas in the stomach. It also affects the lining of the gut that makes absorption of nutrients from food complicated.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This condition affects the large intestine with a variety of symptoms such as bloating, constipation, abdominal cramping etc. You might notice changes in your bowel habit and on its appearance too.

How to Prevent Burping on an Empty Stomach?

Burping is a very natural bodily function. You can easily put a halt to it by adapting yourself to certain habits and avoiding definite food stuff.

  • Have your meals slowly and do not be hasty while chewing or swallowing.
  • Refrain yourself from consuming fizzy-bubbly carbonated drinks (soda, beer, soft drinks etc) especially at night.
  • Avoid chewing gums or hard candy
  • Take supplements like probiotics that helps in metabolic process
  • Do not stress yourself. It directly hampers your digestion.
  • You may eat yoghurt or curd which eases metabolism and aids in digestion.
  • Consume acid producing vegetables and fruits in a minimum quantity.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Stay away from coffee and caffeinated drinks since they may produce extra acid that triggers burping.
  • Have the food cooked in less spice and condiments.
  • Try taking a little walk or do light exercises after dinner.
  • Have frequent small meals every 3-4 hours instead of big meals.
  • Drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

When to Seek Medical Help?

Burping becomes a problem when it occurs at unusual times and when it impairs your routine. Excessive burping associated with symptoms like indigestion, difficulty in swallowing, heartburn may be a sign of ulcer in the digestive tract. Nevertheless people barely consult their physicians about burping thinking it is the consequence of the metabolism.

You may have to do some diagnostic tests essential to identify the disease you may have. X Rays and  upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is indicated to rule out pathological findings if necessary. Other tests include MRI, CT scan, ultrasound tests etc. Blood tests, lipid profiles can be conducted however they are not much explanatory of the concerned conditions in the body.

There are possibilities that your problems may take a serious turn if left untreated. You may begin to observe other related symptoms that makes you uncomfortable around people.

Share the symptoms you have been having when you visit the doctor so that they can rule out your burping triggers. Let them know about the specific details like what food makes you burp, how frequently it occurs, what time of the day and about your eating habits.

Burping Home Remedies

If you ask what is the most familiar and effective method of relieving burping at home, then people will surely mention Ginger tea. It helps to cure multiple digestive problems owing to its anti-inflammatory properties. Another common and beneficial option is yoghurt. It can help to cure various gastro-intestinal disorders by balancing the bacterias in the gut.

Camomile tea is also said to be an effective herbal treatment that improves digestion and relieves burping. Fennel seeds, carom seeds, cardamon, mint leaves – these are easily found at almost every household, grocery shop.  These can prevent formation of gas which causes burping, helps in de-bloating your stomach.

Although these home remedies are suggestive because of the positive effects on your body, it is still better to seek advice from experts.

Burping Treatments

Most of the time, the doctors prescribe medicines and adjustments to the dietary intake as a treatment approach for burping excessively and unusually. Cutting out acid and gas producing foods (mentioned in the section of causes of burping) and including easily digestible foods may help. Limiting fat enriched food reduces bloating and discomfort.

These over the counter medicines may be recommended by your physician:

  • Antacid, tablet or suspension taken after meals. Liquid suspension moves away the gas from the stomach faster and more effectively, hence tablets are less preferred especially when the problem is severe and chronic.
  • Activated charcoal tablets before or after meals. They relieve gas in the colon.
  • Dietary supplements like lactase.
  • Probiotics. They improve gas formation by altering the gut flora (bacterias in our stomach)
  • For constipation, mild laxatives to reduce the distention and discomfort.
  • For lactose intolerance, medicines like lactaid and lactrase that aid in lactose digestion.
  • Prescribed medicines only if recommended by doctors in diagnosis of serious motility disorders like Irritable bowel syndrome.

Make sure to take them on time, best if taken at the same time each day. That way your body will adjust with the medications and the suggested treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When Should I Worry About Burping?

If you feel your stomach has been distended for a long time, and nothing seems to relieve the problem, that is when you should be bothered.

  1. Why Does Someone Burp on an Empty Stomach?

Aerophagia, acid reflux, bacterial infection are some reasons why a person can burp on an empty stomach. However this mainly depends on the meals we had, if not chronic.

  1. Does Eating Oranges Cause Burping?

Yes it might. Because citrus fruits are acid producing foods.

  1. Is Surgical Intervention Required When Somebody Burps Unusually?

It depends solely on the severity and the underlying causes of burping. But usually medications and dietary modifications are enough to improve unusual burping.

Conclusion

Burping is perfectly normal in every human body. But it should be recognized as a problem when the frequency exceeds more than usual and if it predominantly occurs after you wake up and before breakfast. It may interfere with your regular life and make you unable to continue daily activities and most importantly make you feel uneasy and uncomfortable.

Moreover, constant burping, be it early morning or while you are working at your office/home, can also make you embarrassed. Nobody wants a weird stare at themselves in a room crowded with people, right? Yet, the fun fact is that many south asian communities consider burping after a meal as a sign of hunger satisfaction and satiety!

Keep notes on what food makes you burp, check the labels, try having food at almost the same time each day. This way you will be able to get rid of such bothersome situations.

Maisha Zarnaz

I am Maisha, currently studying for MBBS in Armed Forces Medical College, Dhaka. The advancements in medical science enthrals me a lot, hence I like to read medical blogs and articles and help people with whatever knowledge I have been able to acquire on healthy eating, lifestyle and skin care. I love watching TV series or baking when I'm free and music has always been my passion.

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