Q: I’m curious: I know why people burp but why do some people tend to burp more than others?


A: Hmm … interesting question. Firstly, for those of you who don’t know why people burp in the first place — a little primer: When you eat or drink, you are not only taking in food; you are also taking in air. When that air gets to your stomach and your stomach begins the digestive process, the air gets pushed back out through the esophagus, creating the not-so-pretty noise that escapes from your mouth.


We tend to burp more after we drink things like seltzer or soda, because those things have more gas than others. You also usually burp more after scarfing down your food, because eating faster generally means you’re taking in more air.


Burping is usually not painful, but it can be uncomfortable, particularly for babies who have trouble getting burps out on their own. It is for this reason that many bottles for babies these days are marketed for their ability prevent babies from taking in air while they eat. Some even have valves to “catch” the air before it goes into baby’s mouth. Somewhere between 6 and 12 months, babies begin being able to burp on their own, and no longer need to be “burped” over your shoulder.


Isn’t it funny that a burp from a baby brings giggles, smiles, and cheers from everyone around him? But from your husband? Not so much. (As an aside, I cheer when my baby poops too — another bodily function that becomes less and less cute as we age.)

What happens if you don’t burp out that air? Then it comes out the other end, of course, sometimes at inopportune or embarrassing times (at least for me, that is). As my pediatrician told me, “It doesn’t matter which way it comes out — as long as it comes out!”


So why is it that some people tend to burp more than others?


Since we are not all created equal (at least in terms of our bodies), some people’s bodies react differently to gas-inducing foods. Also, the amount of air you swallow can also be affected by how quickly or slowly you eat.


Another factor in determining your total gassiness (a clinical term, mind you) is the medication you may be taking. Some medications or supplements can actually cause bloating and gas as a side effect.


Occasionally, excessive burping can be a sign of a gallbladder problem or even an ulcer, so see your doctor if you’re concerned.


When you think about it, burping is quite a remarkable function of our body. Just like sneezing and blinking, it serves a very real purpose — and that’s to get unwanted and extra air out of your stomach. Can you imagine if that air didn’t have anywhere to go?  So burping, albeit sometimes smelly and often unattractive (especially on a date), is actually a very important function of your body.


Another fun little tidbit about burping — one that I (and many others) learned on the playground at recess in elementary school — it’s actually a sign of appreciation in some cultures. So the next time you let out a big one at the table in front of a crowd — just tell them you’re half Chinese.


— Chanie


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