Six Signs Your Heartburn Could Be Something More Serious
That burning, uncomfortable sensation in your chest? Itâs probably heartburn. Heartburn is a very common ailment that affects many people for many reasons. It occurs when digestive acid escapes the stomach and irritates the delicate lining of the esophagus.
Usually, itâs the result of eating certain foods, or simply overeating, and can be treated with over-the-counter antacids. But sometimes, heartburn is a symptom of bigger problems, that require other solutions. Hereâs when to call a doctor:
Pharmacy First Scotland: Indigestion Treatment From Your Pharmacy
Most people will not need to seek medical advice for their indigestion. However, your pharmacist may advise you see your GP if you have recurring indigestion and any of the following apply:
- you are 55 years old or over
- you have lost a lot of weight without meaning to
- you have increasing difficulty swallowing
- you have persistent vomiting
- you have a lump in your stomach
- you have blood in your vomit or blood in your stools
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of the body is examined using an endoscope .
Severe indigestion can cause long-term problems with parts of your digestive tract, such as scarring of the oesophagus or the passage from your stomach. Read more about the possible complications of severe indigestion.
Excessive Belching And Symptoms Of Cancer
In most cases, belching is not a sign of cancer. However, excessive belching accompanied by other symptoms can be a sign of some cancers, such as stomach cancer, esophagealcancer, and pancreatic cancer .
If you spit up a lot, there are other symptoms to look out for that could be a sign of a more serious health condition, including:
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal discomfort, usually above the navel
- Feeling full after a small meal.
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Vomiting with or without blood.
- Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen.
Don’t Miss: How Can I Stop Heartburn
How Hyperventilation Affects Gas/belching
Those that suffer from anxiety and panic are prone to hyperventilation, or “over-breathing.” Hyperventilation can occur for a variety of different reasons, all related to changes in breathing when someone is under stress:
- Breathing too fast during an anxiety attack.
- Breathing too much oxygen because you feel you’re not getting a deep breath.
- Poor, shallow breathing as a result of bad anxiety habits.
Interestingly, hyperventilation makes people feel as though they are not getting enough air when, in fact, they are getting too much. Hyperventilation tends to trigger various different symptoms, including lightheadedness, chest pains, and shortness of breath. It also triggers belching. When the body receives more air than it needs, the healthy gas ratios are thrown off, and the body needs to expel the excess gas/air – often through belching.
The symptoms associated with hyperventilation can also trigger more anxiety, which can make the cycle of hyperventilation and anxiety difficult to stop.
Other Causes of Gas/Belching from Anxiety
Although hyperventilation is one of the main causes of belching in those with anxiety, it is not the only one. Anxiety can throw off the natural processes of the gastrointestinal system, both slowing and altering digestion, because of the severe stress and hormone changes that affect your stomach. If food is not being digested properly, it can lead to a considerable amount of gas.
Simple Tricks To Reduce Anxiety And Belching
- Anxiety often has a direct relationship to increased belching
- Belching itself may be a symptom of air swallowing, which can be controlled
- Anxiety also affects digestion, including altering gut flora
- Specific changes to breathing habits are one of the most important changes to stop belching
- There are many other approaches that may work, but eventually, managing anxiety will be most important
How Is Gastric Belching Diagnosed
This type of belching is usually solitary, not bothersome and can usually be diagnoses by history. They can also be diagnosed with a test called impedance/pH testing, which allows us to track the movement of air and fluids in the esophagus over a 24-hour period. The gastric belch is seen using this technique as air moving up the esophagus from the stomach.
Home Remedies For Burping
If you find that you tend to burp a lot after eating, the following home remedies may help to ease or reduce your burping:
- Go for a walk after eating. After a meal, light physical activity may help to move food through your digestive tract.
- Take an antacid. If your burping is accompanied by acid reflux or heartburn, an over-the-counter antacid may help.
- Try gas medication. Over-the-counter drugs such as Gas-X and Mylanta Gas contain simethicone, which helps gas bubbles in your stomach bind together. As a result, you may not burp as frequently.
- Chew fennel seeds. In certain cultures, people chew fennel seeds after eating to improve their digestion. While not scientifically proven, fennel seeds dont carry a serious risk of side effects.
- Drink tea. Some herbal teas, such as chamomile and ginger tea, may improve burping associated with indigestion and acid reflux.
The key to reducing how often you burp is to limit how much air you swallow, especially when you eat and drink.
The following tips may help reduce the frequency of your burping:
- Slow down while youre eating and drinking.
- Avoid talking while youre chewing your food.
- Try not to gulp drinks and avoid using straws.
- Eat smaller meals.
- Try to cut back on chewing gum and lozenges.
Besides paying attention to your eating and drinking habits, the following may also help reduce how often you burp:
Reducing stomach acid has been found to reduce burping. A
Recommended Reading: Can Seltzer Water Cause Heartburn
Change Your Eating Habits
People who gulp food rapidly or anxiously are also swallowing more and more air with it, which is a common cause of burping excessively. Some people do so in mental stress, or they may be habitual. Anxiety and stress lead to breathing rapidly and results in swallowing a lot of air.
Eat and drink your food slowly and chew it thoroughly before you swallow. Avoid any habit which can lead you to swallow more air with food. It is not difficult, just check the following list below :
- Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly
- Eat-in small chunks rather than big gulps
- Do not talk while chewing food
- Avoid drinking through a straw
- Avoid chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy
- Be conscious of your eating pattern in any mental stress
When Should I Call A Doctor For Indigestion
Indigestion symptoms are signs of other medical conditions or problems.
If indigestion symptoms are mild or resolve in a short time, talk to your doctor about how to treat it.
If you have any of the following symptoms of severe indigestion, if your symptoms last more than a few days, or if they worsen noticeably, seek medical care immediately:
- Vomiting or blood in vomit
- Loss of appetite
- Black, tarry stools or visible blood in stools
- Severe pain in the upper right abdomen
- Sudden, severe pain in the abdomen, particularly on the right side
- Yellow coloring of the skin and eyes
- Discomfort unrelated to eating
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting due to symptoms
Heart attacks may cause symptoms often are mistaken for indigestion. If indigestion is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, or pain radiating to the jaw, back, neck or arm, seek medical attention immediately.
Also Check: Best Thing For Instant Heartburn Relief
Which Types Of Doctors Treat Indigestion
You might first see your primary care doctor who will diagnose your indigestion. You may be referred to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
If you have a problem that requires surgery such as a severe ulcer or gallstones you may be referred to a general surgeon.
Aerophagia Or Supragastric Belching
Aerophagia and supragastric belching are conditions in which a person moves air into their esophagus, either consciously or unconsciously.
According to an article in the journal Case Reports in Gastroenterology, aerophagia is when a person frequently swallows air. This air enters a persons stomach, which either releases it as a burp or moves it into the intestines.
Conversely, supragastic belching occurs when the esophagus immediately releases the air before a person swallows it and it enters the stomach.
Both aerophagia and supragastric belching can result in a person burping frequently.
It is not clear what causes aerophagia and supragastric belching. The author of an article in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggests that they may be methods of relieving the symptoms of a bloated stomach or might relate to psychological factors.
Although there is not much research on how best to treat aerophagia and supragastric belching, the author states that speech or behavioral therapies may help a person stop the behavior that causes excess air to enter their esophagus.
Read Also: Will Apple Cider Vinegar Stop Heartburn
How Does Excessive Belching Help Diagnose Cancer
When you experience excessive belching with other worrisome symptoms, it can be helpful in diagnosing more serious conditions like cancer. Remember, excessive belching as a single symptom doesnt necessarily mean cancer is present.
In order to diagnose conditions related to excessive belching , your doctor may order the following tests:
- CT scan. A CT scan is a type of imaging that takes cross-sectional pictures of a particular area of the body. In an abdominal CT scan, you are able to see all the organs in your abdominal area.
- Endoscopy. In this procedure, your doctor inserts a thin, lighted tube into your mouth and down your esophagus while youre sedated. The doctor can then see into your stomach and can take biopsies if needed.
- Barium swallow study. This special type of X-ray is taken after you drink barium, which lights up certain areas of your GI tract.
Treatment for excessive belching will depend on the cause. When belching is caused by something thats not serious, lifestyle changes are often all that is needed to get rid of it. These changes can include:
- taking a walk after eating
- avoiding carbonated beverages and chewing gum
- trying to eat and drink more slowly
If your excessive belching is related to a cancer diagnosis, treatments may include:
Get The Word Of Drug Information
Although everyone burps, it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. In most cases, frequent belching is caused by a minor condition that can be easily corrected at home.
However, if you notice that you burp frequently or have other symptoms such as weight loss without trying or feeling full after eating a little, it is important to speak with your doctor. Although rare, these symptoms can occur with some types of cancer.
Don’t Miss: Does Heartburn Pain Come And Go
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.
Swallowing Too Much Air During Eating
Normally, you swallow small amounts of air while youre eating. Some individuals may excessively swallow air which leads to burping a lot after eating.
The swallowing of air can be voluntary or involuntary. Aerophagia depends on physical factors or psychological factors.
Causes of aerophagia include:
- 19% of people with aerophagia have psychological factors as anxiety .
Aerophagia is one of the common causes of burping a lot after eating.
Aerophagia may cause other symptoms that burping such as:
- Feeling full after eating.
- Sometimes, regurgitation of food or vomiting can occur.
The things you can do to prevent aerophagia-induced burping after eating:
- Take small bites.
- Take your time chewing food.
- Try to modify the way you swallow foods or liquids.
- Smoking, alcohol, carbonated beverages.
- Dont drink through a straw.
Also Check: Why Am I Having Heartburn All Day
What Are Other Medical Conditions That Cause Burping
Acid reflux isnt the only possible medical condition that causes excessive burping. Certain diseases like constipation, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and lactose intolerance all have side effects of burping.
In addition to that, acid reflux itself can also come as a result of other medical conditions. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD causes chronic acid reflux and, as a result, burping. To get an accurate diagnosis, contact a medical professional.
Causes Of Belching And Nausea
Excessive belching is mainly due to excessive air swallowing while nausea is largely a result of irritation of the upper gut . However, the causes of nausea can at times be unrelated to the gut and may instead be triggered by substances in the bloodstream and even conditions affecting te nausea centers in the brain. Some conditions can contribute to both excessive air swallowing and upper gut irritation thereby giving rise to belching with nausea simultaneously. Some of the more common causes of both belching and nausea have been discussed below.
Don’t Miss: Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Heartburn Fast
Belching Bloating Or Fullness Constipation And Heartburn
- Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Reviewed on 7/13/2021
These symptoms can all be linked to various conditions that involve the digestive system. Even dietary factors such as overeating may cause some of these symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome if another common cause of bloating and constipation. Take note of all your symptoms and when they occur, and speak with your doctor any time you are concerned.
While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:
Foods That Cause Gas Belching And Heartburn
Burping, passing gas and heartburn are unfortunate by-products of an unhealthy diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. If youre suffering from excess gas, persistent heartburn or chronic burping, it may be a good idea to talk to your health professional, since these conditions could be symptoms of a more serious problem. But changing your diet is likely to help reduce the issue.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Read Also: How To Get Over Heartburn
Dietary And Lifestyle Modifications
Although clinical evidence suggests that dietary and lifestyle modifications are usually not sufficient to bring chronic GERD under control, your physician might suggest a number of dietary and lifestyle changes directed at reducing your symptoms, and adhering to these recommendations might provide some relief. The first goal of treatment is to prevent the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. Foods that trigger reflux and its symptoms vary from person to person. By paying close attention to your diet and symptoms, you may be able to identify which foods repeatedly contribute to your reflux. Common trigger foods include alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, and some spices. Avoiding large portions at mealtime and eating smaller, more frequent meals might aid in symptom control.
Many overweight individuals find symptom relief when they lose some weight, as excess bulk, especially around the abdomen, might put pressure on the digestive tract, negatively affecting its function. Avoid clothes that fit tightly around the waist, as these also increase abdominal stress.
Smoking cessation is also important for reducing GERD symptoms, as studies point to relaxation of the LES with smoking.
People who have GERD should avoid lying down right after eating and refrain from eating within two to three hours of bedtime.
How Is A Supergastric Belch Treated
Supragastric belching is a learned behavior. There is little information available about treatment and there are no large controlled trials of therapy. Most doctors who see these patients start by trying to explain the mechanism by which this belching occurs, and that it is a learned response to something. Patients often are resistant to this explanation. There is some evidence that speech language pathologists knowledgeable on this topic might help retrain the patient. The same might be true of behavioral therapists. There is a small amount of evidence that baclofen, a GABA-B receptor agonist traditionally used to treat muscle spasms, might improve supragastric belching.
Also Check: How To Relieve Heartburn In Pregnancy
Bad Eating Habits And Food Intolerance
Faulty food habits can result in constant nausea and burping. For example:
- Eating too fast leading to excessive swallowing of air during eating.
- Taking while eating.
- Over-consumption of foods that cause burping and nausea, such as alcohol and caffeine.
- Habitual drinking of carbonated beverages.
Also, Some may have an intolerance to certain types of food. Food intolerance is a widespread condition. And it may present with a more severe type of reaction called .
Bad eating habits, food intolerance, and food allergy can cause constant nausea and burping.
The symptoms and differences between food intolerance and food allergy are illustrated in the table below.
|Difficulty digesting certain types of food .||An immune-mediated reaction to certain foods or food components.|
|Causes acute or chronic diarrhea, nausea, burping, and abdominal pain attacks.||Usually causes acute attacks related to the ingestion of offending food.|
|Intestinal symptoms: diarrhea, extensive gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, nausea, burping.||Intestinal symptoms are the same .|
|No extra-intestinal symptoms||Extraintestinal symptoms like rashes, urticaria, swollen lips, face, or severe life-threatening allergic reactions.|
|The severity of your symptoms is proportional to the amount you eat from the offending food.||Even trace amounts of the offending food can produce severe symptoms.|
|Common offending foods:||Common offending foods:|