What Is Eructation? - Definition, Causes & Treatment

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  • 0:04 What Is Eructation?
  • 1:07 The Causes of Eructation
  • 2:50 Treatment of Eructation
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

You may find it a bit embarrassing, or you may not care, but eructation happens to all of us. The many reasons for why it occurs, and the varying treatments for it, are outlined in this lesson.

What Is Eructation?

Admit it. You've done it. I've done it. It's actually pretty normal and natural. It's burping, belching, or more technically, eructation. The word comes from 'eructo,' Latin for 'to belch.'

More technically, eructation refers to a process where gas is expelled out of the stomach, up into the esophagus (the food tube), into the mouth, and then out of the body for everyone's sensory enjoyment.

At its core, the reason it occurs is really simple. Imagine your stomach as a big balloon. If you fill a balloon with a lot of air, its walls distend (expand) a lot. The balloon doesn't like this because it can pop. So what will the balloon do if you release its little valve? It'll squeeze the air out of itself.

Think of your stomach as a balloon. It also may reach a point where the gas inside of it will cause its walls to distend too much. The stomach doesn't like this and so it burps away the excess gas in order to prevent discomfort.

The Causes of Eructation

There are plenty of causes for belching and I'm sure you can relate to some of these. Have you ever had a lot of soda? Well, the soda is carbonated. Those little bubbles in the soda that fizz are actually gas. So when you drink it, not only do you get a sugar rush, but you also pump up your stomach with gas. This is gas the stomach doesn't want or need and it squeezes it out of your body through belching.

If you have ever eaten something way too fast, you may also belch quite a bit. This is because eating or drinking too quickly may cause you to swallow a lot of air and that air has to be burped out.

The technical term for the swallowing of air is aerophagia, where 'aero' refers to air or gas in general, and 'phagia' is a suffix that denotes the eating or swallowing of something.

In addition to eating or drinking too quickly, aerophagia can be caused by:

  • Anxiety, which may or may not occur alongside hyperventilation, or breathing too quickly
  • Drinking through a straw
  • Simultaneously talking and eating
  • Smoking
  • Sucking on hard candy

Plenty of other causes for eructation exist. They include foods like beans, bananas, and alcohol. Pain medication and laxatives, such as lactulose, can cause eructation as well.

There are also plenty of medical conditions that can cause belching. Some of these include:

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