Excessive Belching May Be All in the Head (or Pharynx)

Study points to psychological causes of aerophagia

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Psychological factors may be responsible for excessive belching, but behavior therapy may be an effective treatment for the condition, researchers report in the December issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Albert J. Bredenoord, M.D., Ph.D., of Sint Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, studied the effects of attention and distraction among 10 patients with aerophagia. They recorded the burps during four 30-minute sessions. In one session, patients were unaware they were being recorded. In a second session, they were informed that there was a recording in progress. During the third session, patients were distracted by filling out questionnaires and in the fourth session, there was no distraction.

Researchers recorded a total of 1,258 belches. Of these, 51 were gastric belches and 1,207 were supragastric belches. Supragastric belches increased when patients knew they were being recorded and decreased when they were distracted from the recording by filling out questionnaires.

"These findings underline the importance of psychological factors and provide rationale for behavioral therapy," the study authors conclude. Speech therapy too may play a role as the supragastric belches occur through pharyngeal air injection.

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