It is usually believed that too much of swallowed air is the culprit behind excessive burping, but a new study conducted by researchers from Netherlands and Belgium and published in the latest issue of journal ‘Gut’ has challenged this age-old belief.Most people burp three or four times after a normal meal, but the people in this study burped an average 67 times an hour.
A total of 14 excessive burpers and 14 normal people ate a hamburger, fresh onions, chips and had a drink of orange juice, as part of the study.
The researchers then used a new method called intraluminal impedance monitoring, which involves inserting a tube down the oesophagus to record electrical activity.
However, they found no difference in the amount of air swallowed or the size of the air bubble in the stomach, but they confirmed two distinct types of burps.
The first kind was the result of gas from the stomach, or gastric belching. The second type, or supragastric belching, involved gas from the oesophagus that never made it down to the stomach.
The normal group only did gastric burps but the burpers did both, suggesting their belching was self-induced rather than the result of excess gas.
The researchers said, “Their repetitive and bothersome belches originate from a distinct belch pattern, characterised by air that does not reach the stomach.”
“We suspect that excessive belching is some kind of learned behaviour that is initially induced consciously. After a while, however, this control is lost,” they added.
Australian gastroenterologist Dr Katie Ellard said that the study confirmed that burping was behavioural, rather than indicating a serious medical problem.
“I will sometimes say to people you’re not allowed to burp; sometimes you just have to say ’stop it’,” Ellard said.
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