Gas, Bloating, and Burping
Gas (flatus), burping, and bloating are all normal conditions. Gas is made in the stomach and intestines as your body breaks down food into energy. Gas and burping may sometimes be embarrassing. Reference Bloating, which is a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, can make you uncomfortable. Although many people think that they pass gas too often or have too much gas, it is rare to have too much gas. Changing what you eat and drink can sometimes cut down on gas and relieve discomfort caused by gas.
Belching or burping (eructation) is the voluntary or involuntary, sometimes noisy release of air from the Reference stomach Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window or Reference esophagus Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window through the mouth. Burping 3 or 4 times after eating a meal is normal and is usually caused by swallowing air. Other causes of burping include nervous habits or other Reference medical conditions, such as an Reference ulcer Opens New Window or a Reference gallbladder problem Opens New Window. In some cultures, a person may belch loudly after eating to show appreciation for the meal.
All people pass gas, but some people produce more gas than others. It is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times a day. Although this may embarrass or annoy you, excess intestinal gas usually is not caused by a serious health condition.
Common causes of gas and bloating include:
- Reference Swallowed air. If swallowed air is not burped up, it passes through the digestive tract and is released through the anus as flatus. Excessive air swallowing may cause Reference hiccups Opens New Window.
- Reference Foods and beverages. The amount of gas that different foods cause varies from person to person.
- Constipation. This can cause bloating but generally does not increase gas. For more information, see the topic Reference Constipation, Age 11 and Younger or Reference Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
- Reference Medicines or nutritional supplements. Both prescription and nonprescription medicines, as well as dietary supplements, can cause bloating and gas as side effects.
- A Reference medical condition, such as a Reference bowel obstruction Opens New Window or Reference Crohn's disease Opens New Window.
- Changes in hormone levels. It is common for women to have bloating right before their periods, because their bodies retain fluid.
Dyspepsia is a medical term that is used to describe a vague feeling of fullness, gnawing, or burning in the chest or upper abdomen, especially after eating. A person may describe this feeling as "gas." Other symptoms may occur at the same time, such as belching, rumbling noises in the abdomen, increased flatus, Reference poor appetite, and a change in bowel habits. Reference Causes of dyspepsia can vary from minor to serious.
Occasionally, a person may dismiss serious symptoms, such as Reference symptoms of a heart attack Opens New Window, as "just gas or Reference indigestion Opens New Window."
Reference Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 12, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine