Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Body Watch | Tidbits

A Polite Guide to Why We Belch

February 14, 1996|KATHLEEN DOHENY

You've just scarfed a bowl of ice cream, a handful of peppermints or some really greasy fried fare. Now you can't stop burping.

Blame all that belching on swallowing too much air (which is then burped back up) and on the gastroesophageal sphincter, a ringlike muscle right behind the xiphoid process (lowest part of the breastbone). Normally, this sphincter opens to allow food to pass through into the stomach and then closes, preventing reflux.

But certain foods make the muscle relax more than others. On the offending list: fried foods, ice cream, peppermints, spearmint, licorice. Gum and carbonated beverages are also culprits.

Besides changing your diet, an oft-suggested remedy is to eat more slowly, thus reducing the air you take in as you eat. Or, you could cast belches and burps in a more polite light by using the medical term: Eructation.

Sources: Dr. Herbert Rubin, director of the Digestive Relief Center at Century City Hospital; Dr. Kenneth Hepps, gastroenterologist, Northridge Hospital Medical Center; "High-Speed Healing," (Rodale Press, 1991); The Merck Manual (Merck Research Laboratories, 1992).

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|