Burping shows that you enjoyed the food. In some cultures. But for you, you probably just want to know how the heck to stop burping! It can be extremely loud and embarrassing. And when it brings up an aftertaste of your meal, it’s just plain disgusting.
And its cousin, hiccups, is just as annoying. Though small and short, hiccups can disrupt your everyday activities. And sometimes they get painful too!
Many of the home remedies you find online are just plain weird. Some are backed by science though. And weird as they are, they just might work for you!
But first of all, what exactly is this thing we’re trying to stop?
What is burping?
Burping also goes by other names—belching or eructation. It occurs when you have excess air or gas in your stomach.
The gases can leave your body through two exits: your behind (which turns into farts). Or up your esophagus and out your mouth. And you end up creating a rich and lovely belch.
This is a natural body function. You can’t get rid of it entirely. For most cases, burping won’t cause any physical health damages either. But when it becomes too annoying or embarrassing, you’ll want to lessen the frequency.
Why do you burp?
The belches are caused by gas built up and trapped in your digestive system.
You could be swallowing excess air, thanks to your lifestyle and living habits.
Some foods are difficult to be digested by your organs. So bacteria in your gut have to take over and break down the food. Gasses are the byproduct. So your diet can also be a reason.
In addition, frequent burps may be a sign of more serious underlying health conditions.
So, how can you stop burping?
Well, now we’re finally getting to the important stuff.
Stop burps #1: Eat slowly
Hey, take your time!
This might be hard if you are American. Because while other countries place emphasis on lunch,
Americans have lunch breaks of an average of 30 minutes. Which is pretty sad.
But if you can afford to, eat as slowly as you can.
This minimizes the amount of air you gulp down with the food. When you have less gas in you, there’s less you need to push out. It’s like common sense that eating slower will lower your
burping and farting rates. But it can lower the pounds you gain too!
According to the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, overweight men and women consumed fewer calories when they ate slower. It increases feelings of satiety. Because it takes time for your brain to register fullness!
Relaxing and taking your time also makes the whole process more enjoyable. Which only gets better when you don’t have to worry about burp attacks afterward!
Stop burps #2: Chew with mouth closed
When you eat with your mouth closed, you don’t swallow a bunch of excess air. Try not to talk while eating either.
And this isn’t just common sense. It is about manners too! Just like how burping is gross, no one wants to see your half-chewed food.
(If you need to breathe through your mouth or have another condition, it’s a different story.)
If you wear dentures, braces or retainers, make sure they’re tight. If too loose, you could be
swallowing more air without even realizing.
Stop burps #3: Stay away from the beans
There’s a reason why you get all bloated and gassy after some Chipotle.
Beans are definitely healthy. They are packed with protein, slow-releasing carbs, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
But it’s the fiber that causes the issues. Dietary fiber is consumed to clean out our system.
Because it’s hard to digest. But the downside is that the gut bacteria take over to break it down. And gas is a byproduct.
Beans also contain sugars that our body can’t digest (triple sugar stachyose, quadruple sugar raffinose and five sugar verbascose). These get fermented by bacteria in our colon. Which also produces gas.
It’s not the end of the world if you still want to benefit from beans, peas and lentils!
What can you do?
Make it easier for your body by adding more green vegetables to pair with your beans. Do this by including beans in your salad and vegetable soup or stew.
Each meal should only contain one type of protein. So if you decide beans are your protein source of the meal, avoid others.
Try new ways to cook your beans too!
Cook them using a low pressure cooker. Then use digestive spices. Some to try are: ginger, turmeric, cumin and fennel. Try not to use acidic sauces (those with vinegar and/or tomatoes.)
The acid will harden the beans.
You can also add in dried kombu (seaweed) after the beans are cooked. This makes the beans more digestible.
Beans which are easy to digest: adzuki, mung beans and dhal.
Instructions on preparing gas-free beans are available here.
Stop burps #4: Cut the cheese
We all drink breast milk as infants. But as we age, we start losing the enzyme lactase. Also known as the thing that breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk.
So even if you used to be great with cheese, you might find yourself unable to digest dairy anymore. Lactose intolerant, in fact.
This is actually quite common. Around one-third of Americans are sensitive to lactose. The number gets higher for certain races and ethnicities. For example, 90% of Asians are affected.
Just like with beans, gut bacteria take charge when your intestines can’t digest the dairy. And then you get gassy. Common effects also include bloating, farting, cramps and diarrhea.
What can you do?
Keep a food diary for a few weeks. Cut out dairy products to determine if those are truly the culprit.
If so, you can still drink a little milk. Such as with your bowl of cereal in the morning. But depending on how much lactase you have, that could deplete your stores. In which case it’ll be bad news if you try eating any more lactose sources.
Here are some foods that you may want to stay away from:
Dairy milk (especially skim milk)
Whey protein powders
Butter and cream (less lactose than milk, but still enough)
Cheese (the harder it is, the less lactose it has)
Ice cream (milk and milk sugar)
Canned soup (especially cream-based)
Savory snacks with milk powder and/or cheese flavored
Sweets (milk chocolate, doughnuts, pudding and more)
To be safe, check the ingredients for anything with milk, whey and lactose.
If you really cannot live without anything on the list, consider lactase supplements. You may also want to consult your doctor for advice.
Stop burps #5: No sweet tooth
Other than lactose, you may also be sensitive to fructose. This type of sugar is found naturally in fruits and artificially as a sweetener.
Fructose malabsorption, or intolerance, is common. Just like lactose intolerance. But less people talk about it. According to the American College of Gastroenterology in Seattle, nearly half of the population gets gassy from fructose.
What can you do?
Don’t cut out fruits just because of the fructose in them. But for other stuff (such as candy and coffee add-ins), pay attention to the food labels!
While fructose is advertised as a “healthier” alternative, that’s not quite true. Other popular artificial sugars include:
You can also consider switching back to natural, real sugar. But just don’t go spooning the sugar in!
Stop burps #6: Steam vegetables
It’s hard to eat healthy.
Not just because healthy and fresh foods are more expensive. And harder to cook. And sometimes doesn’t taste as good.
But they might also make you gassy. You’ll burp and fart more and stink up the whole house.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and more. What do they all have in common? Sulfur.
When this gets broken down in your large intestines, it produces something called hydrogen sulfide. Also the thing responsible for the rotten egg smell. The gases from bacteria fermentation can also lead to bloating and discomfort.
If you are prone to bloating or are suffering from IBS, consider avoiding sulfur-rich vegetables.
What can you do?
First cut them out of your diet for a week. Check if your burping is relieved.
If so, you can add the vegetables back into your diet. Slowly but surely. Start with smaller portions. If your body can handle it, increase the serving size.
As for cooking methods, steam your vegetables! They’ll become easier to digest. You can also simmer, sauté or bake them. Experiment with pureeing them into a broth too.
Carminatives (such as ginger and dill) are great herbs to add. They help prevent the formation of gases in your GI tract. There are over-the-counter supplements for these carminative herbs too.
You can also explore new, low-sulfur vegetables. Some great ones are squash and eggplant.
Stop burps #7: No more puffs
Don’t know about you, but we love mousses, soufflés and puffs. They’re nice treats with a classy feel.
But sadly, if you have a burping problem, you’ll want to stay away. These (and related foods such as whipped cream) contain large amounts of air. The whole point of mousses is the air bubbles inside that give it the light texture!
You won’t feel so light and airy if it comes out of you in the form of obnoxious burps.
Other activities that could get unnecessary air into your system:
Sucking on hard candy
Long and hard yawns
Yawning is a natural thing that is hard to stop. You can try keeping your mouth closed until the urge passes.
The other activities listed should be a bit easier to avoid.
Stop burps #8: Goodbye bubbly drinks
Carbonated drinks obviously contain carbon dioxide gas. Alcoholic beverages also contain the gas thanks to the fermentation process.
The best thing to do is switch to regular clear water. The list of water benefits is honestly endless!
Other than preventing you consuming unnecessary air.
And other benefits to drinking water:
Flush out toxins
Boosts immune system
Prevent muscle cramps
If these aren’t enough to convince you, at least take smaller sips of your carbonated drinks. And drink for a longer period of time. Don’t use straws or drink from a can either.
Taking slow sips from a glass will ensure taking in the least amount of air possible.
Extra tip: If you have a cold or a runny nose, try not to swallow the mucus. Sip water instead. This way, you won’t gulp air along with the mucus. Which can result in chronic belching.
Stop burps #9: Relax and de-stress
Maybe you fart and belch a lot more when they’re nervous. You’re not alone though!
Stress messes with your digestion. Because digestion is controlled by and communicates with your nervous system. When under stress, you may experience esophagus muscle spasms. Your stomach will also release more acid, leading to indigestion.
Anxiety can change the way you breathe. The most common reason is due to hyperventilation. It is also called over-breathing. This can happen if you:
Breathe too quickly during a panic or anxiety attack
Feel that you cannot breathe and in turn breathe in too much oxygen
If you suffer from anxiety, make sure to visit a therapist. There are also some websites that can help with attacks.
Meditation and yoga are also great activities to add into your everyday life.
Stop burps #10: Enjoy tea
Another alternative to bubbly drinks is herbal tea.
It will soothe your tummy. And decrease gas production by managing your bowel movements. So there will be less gas coming out of either of your openings.
If you’re not much of a tea drinker, first buy little bits of different ones. You can experiment with them and see which one suits you better (your needs and tastes).
Take a look at different herbs you can include. Just make sure each ingredient has equal amounts in your herbal mixture. After combining, store your mixture in an airtight container.
The best time for tea is after a hearty meal. The herbs will gently boost your digestive system and get them working.
When ready for a tea, spoon the mixture into a teacup. Pour boiling water over it and steep for around 10 minutes. Strain the herbs, sit back and relax.
Remember to take small and slow sips!
There are two main types of chamomile. German chamomile is the most popular. Its stomach cramp fighting abilities has even been approved by the German governmental organization. In addition, chamomile helps you relax and sleep better.
Peppermint is recommended by doctors for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The minty thing can also calm digestion and relieve anxiety related to depression.
Also known as meridian fennel or Persian cumin, caraway has powerful healing powers. Digestive problems it can take care of include: heartburn, bloating, gassiness, stomach and intestinal spasms and constipation.
In addition, the herb can help kill bacteria and control urination. For women, it relieves period cramps and increase flow of breast milk.
If you don’t want it in tea, you can use it as a spice in your cooking.
This herb has a long history of promoting digestion. Yarrow is anti-inflammatory too. It fights infections and bacteria.
The leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked. Try adding some yarrow leaves in your salad!
Another popular herb is mint. In addition to digestion, it also boosts weight loss. You can find help for nausea, depression, asthma and memory loss too.
Ginger is often used to treat stomach aches. It promotes saliva flow and relieves nausea as well.
Just be careful not to go overboard with the ginger. Too much can actually reverse the effects, causing upset stomachs, gas and heartburn.
Stop burps #11: Wear looser clothing
Yes, tight clothing is uncomfortable. Because it’s so tight and you just can’t breathe! But skinny jeans and form-fitting clothing can lead to other problems too.
They can cause acid reflux and digestive issues. Especially clothing that push on your abdomen (belts, pants, compression garments, to name a few).
The extra pressure on your stomach can push acids up your throat. This is particularly problematic when/if you overeat.
To make matters worse, these tight articles of clothing can even cause nerve damage and poor circulation.
Oversized clothing has been trending recently. So why not take advantage of that and give your belches a break?
Stop burps #12: Over-the-counter tips
When lifestyle changes and home remedies don’t work, consider over-the-counter supplements.
Antacids such as simethicone will break up large gas bubbles. As aforementioned, lactase supplements aid in breaking up lactose.
Digestive enzyme supplements also help with digesting difficult foods. Beano, for example, breaks down sugars in vegetables and grains.
Activated carbon, or activated charcoal, tablets are another option. These porous tablets are commonly made from bamboo or coconut shells. The pores trap the gasses and toxins in your GI tract. Acting like sponges, the tablets act like a mini vacuum. It’s easier to eliminate gases with them.
Take a tablet after a meal or at the first sign of discomfort.
Since these medicines don’t require a prescription, make sure you follow the instructions on the labels.
When belching gets serious
If you suffer from chronic, frequent belching, make sure to consult a physician.
Does your excessive burping come with any of the following?
Because these are all symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
A muscle called lower esophageal sphincter (LES) controls the opening of your stomach. It usually closes when food enters to keep the food and stomach acid from escaping. But when you suffer from acid reflux, the muscle doesn’t close in time. Or it doesn’t close fully.
The stomach acid then gets up into your esophagus. You’ll need to swallow repeatedly to clear it away. This leads to excess air, belching and overall discomfort. There’s a burning chest pain that can last up to hours. It can feel similar to a heart attack.
What can you do?
You should avoid foods and habits that weaken your LES muscle. Foods include:
Fried or fatty food
Caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
Overly acidic and spicy foods should definitely be avoided.
Activities that can worsen or lead to GERD include:
Eating large portions
Eating right before bed
Smoking also causes you to swallow more air than usual. This is another cause for unattractive burping!
When your stomach stretches after a hearty meal, it puts a lot of pressure on the LES. This can make it work less effectively.
The same goes for fatty or fried food. Those take longer to digest and require more stomach acid.
This weakens the LES. So, try to eat smaller serving sizes. And eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before sleeping. It gives your stomach time to partially empty and decrease acid levels.
If you feel the burning pain, try standing up instead of lying down to rest. This will relieve symptoms. A lot of people find that losing weight helps too!
If lifestyle and diet changes have no effect, consult a doctor. Medication, such as antacid tablets, or surgery may be necessary.
Other serious things
In addition to acid reflux, the burping can be a sign that you have:
Gastritis is an irritation of the stomach lining. It can lead to inflammation and erosion of the lining. It may be caused by alcohol use, stress, vomiting or certain medications. Other symptoms include bloating, stomach aches, bloody stools and more.
Gastroparesis is delayed gastric emptying. It can also cause nausea. Peptic ulcers are characterized by painful sores in the lining of your stomach. These sores can also form in the first part of your small intestines.
Gluten intolerance usually happens to those with celiac disease. However, the National Institutes
of Health found that you can be sensitive to gluten even without the disease. If that is the case, you’ll experience bloating and extra gas.
You can develop lactose intolerance as you age too.
Gallstones and other gallbladder problems may cause belching.
In extreme cases, your severe burping may be caused by stomach or esophagus cancer.
If you are aware that you are already suffering from any of these conditions, controlling one will control the other. Make sure to follow any prescriptions given to you.
If not, you can visit your physician for an examination. Better safe than sorry!
Now belching has been taken care of. But what about hiccups, the distant but equally annoying cousin?
What are hiccups?
The full name of hiccups is “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF).” Also known as singultus. What the heck does that mean?
Sometimes, the diaphragm will suddenly and involuntarily contract. The larynx (voice box) will contract as well. This closes the glottis, blocking the flow of air. And then you get a hiccup.
Other times, the vagus nerves or phrenic nerves are irritated (or damaged). They must be stimulated again to work properly.
Hiccups usually go away by themselves after a short while. But they are a nuisance and can be painful too!
In some cases, they may keep going. When a hiccup attack lasts for more than one month, it can be called “intractable hiccups.”
One man had chronic intractable hiccups and they only went away after he reached an orgasm. (This was scientifically proven in a 2000 study. The researchers don’t know if orgasms would have the same effect on women though.)
But if you need some remedies you can do on the spot, here are a few. Just remember that everyone is different. Some of these might work better for you than others.
Stop hiccups #1: Breathing exercises
These exercises will help you regulate your breathing. It will help to relax.
Take a deep breath. Hold your breath and count to 10. Exhale, letting the air out slowly.
Repeat three times. If the hiccups are still there after 20 minutes, repeat.
Another breathing tip is to breathe into a paper bag. Don’t stuff your entire head into the bag though! Just put it to your mouth like blowing up a balloon.
Stop hiccups #2: Posture changes
Make it easier to breathe. Unblock your airways by changing your posture.
Sit on the ground or in a chair. Hug your knees to your chest. Lean forward a bit to compress your chest. Keep the position for 2 minutes.
You can also try pairing this with the breathing exercises.
Stop hiccups #3: Eating tricks
There are tons of hiccup home remedies that involve eating.
You can stick a spoonful of peanut butter into your mouth. Or eat some granulated sugar. But don’t swallow it until it melts into a syrupy substance.
For something less sweet, get a thin slice of lemon. Place it on your tongue and suck on it.
A few drops of vinegar are also recommended by some.
The extreme flavors may help you get over the hiccups.
Stop hiccups #4: Drinking tips
Drink a mouthful of water. But don’t gulp it down all at once. Divide it into seven swallows. (This technique might take a few tries to perfect. But this is the writer’s go-to for stopping hiccups!)
Or plug both of your ears and drink a glass of cold water with a straw. This should work because the vagus nerve branches into the auditory (hearing) system. When you stick your fingers into your ears, you can stimulate those nerve endings.
An emergency room doctor published on the Canadian Family Physician suggests pressing the tragi of the ears inward while drinking. By pressing tightly, this will seal the external acoustic meati.
For something more difficult, drink from the far side of the glass. How does that work? Bend and reach your mouth over to the opposite side of the glass. Then tilt the glass away from you as you drink. If you’re not coordinated, keep some paper towels nearby!
Stop hiccups #5: Pressure points
There are some pressure points that can help with the muscle spasms responsible for hiccups.
Pull your tongue to stimulate the vagus nerve. Just hold the end of your tongue and tug gently. This should ease the diaphragm spasms. In order to avoid gag reflexes, you can just stick your tongue out. Although it would look a bit rude . . .
You can also gently press down on your diaphragm. Or place light pressure on your nose while swallowing. You can pair this with the drinking tricks.
If you suffer from intractable hiccups, you can consider getting a rectal massage. Which might sound just as weird as getting an orgasm to fix your hiccups. But in a study done in 2006, 100 percent of participants cured their hiccups.
A rectal massage performed with a finger can stimulate both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. The researchers also recommend those with intractable hiccups to get this massage before using pharmacological agents.
Stop hiccups #6: Stay away from triggers
To be honest, experts are still in debate over why these things happen to us. There are still some triggers we know.
The triggers that cause hiccups are similar to those for belching. Because when there is excess gas in the stomach, it presses against the diaphragm and irritates it.
Eating and/or drinking too quickly
Drinking alcohol or carbonated beverages
Swallowing excess air
Certain foods, such as hot and spicy ones, may irritate the phrenic nerve.
Extreme emotions and certain medications may cause hiccups as well.
In addition, sudden changes in temperature of the stomach due to eating or drinking can be responsible too.
When hiccups get serious
Hiccups are usually harmless. But if they last more than 2 days or any of the following occur, visit a doctor immediately:
Go away but return frequently
Interfere with eating, breathing or sleeping
Difficult to swallow
Show signs of clinical depression
Begin or continue to lose weight for no apparent reason
Hiccups come with stomach pain, fever, vomiting or shortness of breath
Cough up blood
Symptoms become aggravated
These may be a sign of underlying health conditions.
One such medical condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Also known as acid reflux or heartburn.
Yup. If this looks familiar, that’s because it is. Just like constant belching, persistent hiccups may also be a sign of acid reflux disease. Many of the same lifestyle changes and alertness are needed.
Some other medical conditions that hiccups may be a part of include:
Digestive conditions: GERD, Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), small bowel obstruction
Respiratory conditions: pneumonia, asthma, pleurisy
Central nervous system conditions: stroke, brain tumor, encephalitis, traumatic brain injury
Vagus nerve irritation: pharyngitis, meningitis, goiter
Psychological reaction: extreme emotions such as shock, fear, excitement or stress
When you visit a doctor, they may prescribe medication similar to the following:
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI): reduces the amount of acid your stomach will produce. This will alleviate acid reflux symptoms.
Baclofen (Liorseal): this is a muscle relaxant to soothe your muscle spasms.
Metoclopramide (Reglan): this will take care of feelings of nausea that may occur.
Chlorpromazine: this is an antipsychotic medicine
Haloperidol: another antipsychotic medicine
Gabapentin: this was originally used for treating epilepsy. But now doctors can prescribe it for treating neuropathic pain and/or hiccups.
Hiccups in babies
After feeding babies, you have to burp the baby. But hiccups are a different story.
They are a normal part of development and the babies usually aren’t bothered. But the hiccups can disrupt their sleeping and feeding.
If the hiccups occur when you’re trying to feed the baby, try changing the baby’s position. Burp the baby by pressing lightly on their belly. This will release the air trapped in their stomach.
It may also be necessary to calm the baby.
Feeding the baby can also help. So if the hiccups are still there after 5 to 10 minutes, you should resume feeding.
You should consult a doctor if the hiccups happen regularly and/or upset the baby. Just as with adults, these chronic hiccups could be a symptom of a more serious medical condition.
It is also expected of babies who were born addicted to drugs. Hiccups are a sign of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
NAS is rarely fatal, but symptoms can be intense and painful. It most often occurs when the mother takes opioids during pregnancy. Sedatives, barbiturates and alcohol use are also associated with the syndrome.
Fifty-five to 94 percent of infants exposed to these substances develop NAS.
In addition to hiccups, some other symptoms are:
Central nervous system symptoms: high pitched cry, irritability and jitteriness, unexplained seizures, disorganized sleep
Autonomic nervous system symptoms: unexplained apnea, fever, mottling, elevations of respiratory rate and blood pressure
Gastrointestinal symptoms: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, poor weight gain, problems with feeding and sucking
If this is the case, please contact a physician immediately. Hospital stays may be necessary.
Belching and hiccups are both natural and common occurrences. You can’t say goodbye to them once and for all. Usually, they are harmless too. But if they keep going on forever and are disturbing your lifestyle, you should pay more attention them.
Let us summarize the key points.
There are three main reasons as to why you’re making these annoying sounds:
You swallow too much air
Your stomach produces too much gas
Underlying health conditions
If you can help it, get rid of the bad habits that get too much air into you. Such as drinking carbonated soda and smoking. There are other health benefits to cutting those habits out of your life. Not just less burps and farts!
Being stressed and other psychological factors may cause your burps and hiccups as well.
As for being too gassy, you can keep a food diary for a while. Keep a record of everything you eat. Then take some food groups out. Track if your burping rate goes down.
Common foods that are hard to digest include:
Greasy or oily foods
Dairy products (for those who are lactose intolerant)
Fructose products (for those who are sensitive to fructose)
Your stomach and intestines can’t digest these properly. So they get broken down by bacteria in your gut. The byproduct is gas. Which needs to come out of you in some way.
Bloating and constipation are also common.
After finding the type of food responsible, stop eating them for a few weeks. If the burping decreases, you can start to introduce the food back into your diet. But remember to go slowly and start with small servings!
The underlying health conditions are mostly related to digestive issues:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Lactose and gluten intolerance
When you suffer from these conditions, the burping will be accompanied with other symptoms.
These include constipation, bloating, bloody stools and other related experiences.
Hiccups are similar. But there are many more home remedies that you can try out. Some probably sound really weird (orgasms? Rectal massages?). But who knows? They might work surprisingly well for you.
Enjoy your gas-free life!
Many of the tricks for how to stop belching are lifestyle changes. In addition to helping you stop burping and farting, these can turn your entire life around.
Activities such as yoga and drinking herbal tea give your mind and body a well-deserved break. Even if you don’t have gas problems! You can even get shiatsu massages to help with your digestion. And relax your body.
By managing your diet and habits, you can enjoy a more wholesome life. A life that won’t be disrupted by noxious gas and weird noises coming out of you!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.