In this article:
- Why swallowed air is a common cause of bloating.
- What causes you to swallow too much air.
- How to stop swallowing air and eliminate it as a reason for bloating.
How Swallowing Air Causes Bloating
One possible cause of bloating and upper intestinal gas is swallowed air. It’s normal to swallow small amounts of air when drinking, eating and swallowing saliva, but in some people the amounts become large enough to cause problems.
Most swallowed air is usually burped back out. Any that isn’t can pass from the stomach into the upper intestine. Once there, the only way out is down.
Lying down usually increases the amount of swallowed air in the digestive tract, but there are several other potential causes.
Common Causes of Swallowed Air
Eating too quickly can often make people to swallow too much air, particularly eating with your mouth open or talking while eating.
Gulping down liquids is another way you can get gas into your digestive tract. Carbonated drinks like soda and beer are especially bad, as is drinking from a straw or sipping from a water fountain.
Chewing on gum, sucking on hard sweets and puffing on cigarettes can all lead to more swallowed air. These are all good things to give up for better health as well.
Mouth breathing significantly increases the chances of air going into your stomach and is a much less healthy way to breathe. Snoring and sleep apnea is a big problem for intestinal gas too as air is much more likely to be forced into your stomach when you are lying down.
Nasal congestion can cause occasional mouth breathing, but if you often breathe through the mouth, either during the day or especially at night, then it’s well worth reading about how to get back to normal breathing. Breathing through your nose is surprisingly important for your health.
Feeling stressed and rushing around can lead to mouth breathing and therefore bloating from swallowed air. When this becomes subconscious and ongoing it is called aerophagia.
Curing aerophagia usually involves calming down, slowing down and becoming conscious of deliberately breathing through the nose to stop swallowing air. This can take some time, but if the problem is ongoing an experienced healthcare professional should be consulted. Far beyond just causing bloating, aerophagia is a serious health issue that needs to be addressed.
How to Minimize Swallowed Air
Take more time when you eat and slow down and enjoy your food. You are much more likely to swallow air when you rush your meals. If you haven’t yet, read the article on Slowing Down Eating.
Drink liquids at a relaxed pace rather than gulping them down. Fizzy drinks introduce carbon dioxide into your digestive system regardless of how you drink them. Give these a rest for a week, along with straws and water fountains, and see if it makes a difference to your symptoms.
Concentrating on your breathing is the essential first step to overcoming mouth breathing, whether due to stress or just bad breathing habits.
Snoring and sleep apnea need to be addressed as a priority. The health consequences go far further than just introducing air into the intestinal tract and annoying your partner.
Snoring weakens your immune system, exacerbates respiratory and circulatory problems and damages your overall health and wellbeing. Soreless nose strips are often effective for occasional snorers, but people with ongoing problems should really seek medical advice.
- Not all bloating is caused by swallowed air, but if you have addressed dietary factors and taken steps to improve your digestion, then take this week to become more aware of the way you are eating, drinking and most importantly breathing.
- Slowing down and taking your time with all of these three can really help to stop bloating caused by swallowing air.
Photo credit: My Best Treat