Belching refers to the expulsion of stomach gas through the mouth. As the gas escapes, it produces the characteristic belching sound. Swallowing air is the most common cause of belching. This occurs naturally as a consequence of eating or drinking too quickly. Other things that might cause belching include the consumption of carbonated beverages or the chewing of gum. Belching is common in infants as a result of their tendency to swallow a lot of air during feeding.
As indicated, belching is normally nothing more than the harmless expulsion of gas from the stomach. This can occur in an everyday setting as a result of breathing through the mouth, the chewing of gum and drinking carbonated beverages. One might also belch as a result of drinking or eating too quickly, drinking through a straw or the wearing of ill-fitting dentures. Emotional stress or nervousness might also cause one to belch.
Belching might also occur as a result of some underlying gastrointestinal problem. This definition includes conditions whereby the normal digestive flow is delayed, interrupted or obstructed. There are also relevant disorders that causes a deficiency or absence of the processes needed for the proper digestion of food. Examples of this include lactose intolerance, food allergy and gallbladder disease. Further examples of problems that can cause belching include gastritis, gastrointestinal reflux disease, hiatal hernia, intestinal obstruction, pancreatic disease, peptic ulcer disease, pyloric obstruction and tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. Pregnant women might also suffer from belching.
There are also some serious and life threatening conditions that might be indicated by the onset of chronic belching. This is quite rare, but the possibility of this being the case should not be ignored. Examples of these problems include abdominal abscess, obstruction of the digestive tract and myocardial infarction. These problems are serious and if you feel your belching might be an indicator of the presence of these diseases, contact an emergency department as soon as possible.
With regard to the correct diagnosis of belching and underlying conditions, it might be worthwhile to remember how long the belching has lasted and whether it worsens after consumption of certain foods or beverages. Check to see if you are experiencing any symptoms other than belching, and also be sure to note if belching is becoming more frequent or worsening over time. Belching is generally harmless and an everyday occurrence for many people, but there are also plenty of complications that can arise if the problem is related to another underlying condition.