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Burping, Wind and Gas… Don’t worry, we all do it!

Rule #1 of life. Do what makes you happy - unknown

A lot of embarrassing wind comes out of us. Usually flatulence is manageable, but sometimes, let’s be honest, the human body seems to have a mind of its own. And what’s the deal with hiccups? Or those moments when it feels like you are about to be sick? What about the incredible pain that sometimes sits just under your rib cage for no apparent reason at all? Let’s get down and dirty and learn how to manage gastrointestinal (GI) distress. No one said it would be pretty, but don’t worry, don’t get anxious we all do it and we all want answers.


Belching or burping(eructation) is the voluntary or involuntary, sometimes noisy release of air from the stomach  or esophagus through the mouth .Burping 3 or 4 times after eating a meal is normal and is usually caused by swallowing air. Other causes of burping include nervous habits or other medical conditions, such as  an ulcer or  a gallbladder problem. In some cultures, a person may belch loudly after eating to show appreciation for the meal.

There are conditions that cause excessive burping, such as gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) or gastro paresis (delayed stomach emptying). This typically happens when chewing gum, sucking sweets, eating rapidly or drinking carbonated beverages. Many people swallow air as a nervous habit, when they are speaking or talking while eating. The best trick to reduce air in the upper GI tract is by slowing down. Chew food thoroughly and slowly, avoid fizzy drinks, chewing gum and boiled sweets.  A cup of mint or ginger tea will help to relax the lining of the throat and reduce stress which may also be a contributing factor.


Heartburn is a sharp pain that is right behind the breastbone or under the rib cage and is commonly most painful after eating a meal, bending over or lying down. It is caused by a backup of stomach acid in the esophagus and is often confused with feeling like one is having a heart attack. People experience heartburn when their esophageal sphincter is weakened and does not work properly—instead of the sphincter opening to allow food and fluids into the stomach and closing when the food has passed, it stays partly open and gastric juices seep through. Most people experience this feeling occasionally as a little throw up coming up the throat; it should resolve fairly quickly. Foods that exacerbate symptoms include: alcohol, pepper, chocolate, coffee, fried or fatty foods, foods with vinegar, mint, carbonated beverages and citrus foods. These foods should be eliminated when symptoms are present.

Wind or Flatulence

Otherwise known as f…… is usually caused by gasses built up and created by undigested food fermenting in the colon. It can also be caused by swallowing air, medication use, constipation or malabsorption. Some people are gassier than others and some foods create more gas than others.  It is normal to pass gas from 6 to 20 times a day. Although this may embarrass or annoy you, excess intestinal gas usually is not caused by a serious health condition. The best way to get rid of flatulence is through a bowel movement. To manage posterior gas, avoid the foods that exacerbate the issue (common culprits are fatty foods, beans, peas, cabbage, lentils, bananas, dairy and wheat products). You may want to also consider a probiotic to introduce some bacteria that will help with digestion.


Most of us have experienced the feeling of being bloated, when your tummy is stretched, puffy and uncomfortable. It often happens after a big weekend or over a festive season. But for some people, bloating is more than an occasional inconvenience. Bloating is basically the buildup of gas that cannot escape. It leads to an uncomfortable pressure in the belly and may be related to smoking, stress, eating too many fatty foods or conditions such as lactose intolerance, excess wind, celiac disease, GI blockage or irritable bowel syndrome. You can reduce bloating by avoiding the foods listed in the ‘wind’ paragraph above, as well as cutting out fizzy drinks and foods that cause wind. Sit down to eat and take regular exercise.

Hopefully this helps to clear the air (ha!) about what is going on, on the inside. Remember that nothing aids digestion better than hydration, so drink water slowly and steadily as you manage your burps, heartburn, wind and bloating. No one said the human condition was pretty all the time!

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.