Belching is the act of bringing up air from the stomach.
Belching is most often a normal process. The purpose of belching is to release air from the stomach. Every time you swallow, you also swallow air, along with fluid or food.
The buildup of air in the upper stomach causes the stomach to stretch. This triggers the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus (the tube that runs from your mouth to the stomach) to relax. Air is allowed to escape up the esophagus and out the mouth.
Depending on the cause, belching may last longer or be more forceful.
Belching may be due to:
- Pressure caused by the unconscious swallowing of air (aerophagia)
- Acid reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn
You can get relief by lying on your side or in a knee-to-chest position until the gas passes.
Avoid chewing gum, eating quickly, and eating gas-producing foods and beverages.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Most of the time belching is a minor problem. Call a health care provider if the belching does not go away, or if you also have other symptoms.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will examine you and ask about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- Is this the first time this has occurred?
- Is there a pattern to your belching? For example, does it happen when you are nervous or after you have been consuming certain foods or drinks?
- What other symptoms do you have?
You may need more tests based on what the provider finds during your exam and your other symptoms.
Burping; Eructation; Gas - belching
McQuaid KR. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 132.
Richter JE, Friedenberg FK. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 44.
Review Date 7/15/2017
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.