What are Sulfur Burps?
Sulfur Burps refers to when air and gases of the digestive system (normally colorless and odorless) are emitted through the mouth. If gases burped from the digestive system have a strong smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, something has gone wrong in your alimentary canal.
The smell is caused by a gas called hydrogen sulphide usually contained in sulfur proteins found in some foods and is released when they are broken down by sulfur reducing microbes in the stomach or small intestine. 1,2
- Some bacteria, most often Helicobacter pylori or Giardia, usually cause sulfur burps. These microbes usually get into the body when a person has poor oral hygiene.
- Foods that are rich in sulfur e.g. dairy products, red meat, poultry, yams, onions etc. Can cause sulfur smelling burps if excessively consumed.
- Certain prescription medications contain a high amount of sulfur and make the patient prone to sulfur burps.
- Consumption of foods that one is allergic to cause a resultant allergic reaction that may include sulfur burps and diarrhea.
- Poor habits and lifestyle choices can make one at risk of sulfur burps. These include excessive smoking, drinking and a poor diet.
- Pregnancy slows down the digestive system and has been known to cause sulfur burps in some women.
- An empty colon can also cause sulfur burps. An empty colon is typically caused by irritable bowel syndrome. Gall bladder problems may also cause sulfur burps.
- Sulfur burps can be caused by an underlying health condition that prevents food from being completely digested thereby allowing sulfur reducing bacteria to produce hydrogen sulphide. Such diseases include:hernias, acid reflux, stress, celiac disease, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Except for the characteristic rotten egg smell, sulfur burps are usually accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pains or cramps.
- Exhaustion and pain
Diagnosis of sulfur burps is a complicated process of elimination due to the multiple causes the condition has. Doctors use the following guidelines when diagnosing sulfur burps.
- Helicobacter pylori are bacteria that causes sulfur burps alongside: gastric ulcers, heartburn, chronic gastritis and abdominal cramps or bloating. It is diagnosed using the urea breath test.
- Performing a stool test for ova and parasites may reveal the presence of Giardia lamblia, a single celled parasite usually present in water bodies that except for sulfur burps also causes abdominal bloating and diarrhea (or loose stool with mucus).
- Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) is determined to be the cause of sulfur burps if the patient also suffers flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, lactose intolerance pr fructose malabsorption.
- A colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy can be performed to rule out abnormalities in that part of the alimentary canal that cause diseases like Crohn’s disease.
- Tests for acid reflux and a check of GI scopes may be recommended by the doctor.
- Sulfur burps caused by food rich in proteins can be distinguished from those with other causes because the stomach takes a comparatively longer time for processing and releasing the high protein meal. This causes acidity, makes the stomach feel bloated and stops as soon as the protein ingested is exhausted.
- If sulfur burps begin on the heels of new medication, then consult your doctor or check the list of ingredients on the medicine for sulfur content.
- Helicobacter pylori are a common cause of sulfur burps and doctors usually treat it with prescription of antibiotics taken over a course of seven to ten days.
- When sulfur burps are caused by Giardia lamblia, the doctor prescribes anti parasitic drugs that clear the infestation and stop the burps.
- People suffering from Celiac disease are prescribed medication to ease the symptoms and advised to change diets to one that is gluten free (no wheat, barley or rye).
- Sulfur burps caused by excessive intake of rich protein foods can be treated by simply altering the diet and avoid such foods.
- If an allergic reaction caused the sulfur burps then an antihistamine may be prescribed and the person urged to take caution against consuming foods they are allergic to.
- When sulfur burps are caused by a new prescribed medication that is high in sulfur, one can consult the doctor for an alternative drug or employ home remedies to ease the effects of the sulfur burps.
- Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) is a strong anti diarrheal drug which reduces sulfur burps and gas. It is sometimes prescribed to people suffering acute sulfur burps to bind hydrogen sulphide gas and expel it from the gastrointestinal tract. Pepto Bismol colors the tongue and stool black and should not be administered to children or longer than 3 weeks for adults.
- Alka Seltzer is an anti-acid which neutralizes the acidity in the gastrointestinal tract and reduces formation of hydrogen sulphide gas.
- Take plenty of water at a variety of intervals.
- Reduce the amount of high sugar food items e.g. sweets and desserts in the diet as they cause build up of gas in the stomach.
- Reduce consumption of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages as these increase sulfur burps.
- Increase the amount of fibrous foods e.g. fresh fruits in your diet. Fibrous foods helps clean out the food left in the stomach and small intestines that may be causing sulfur burps.
- Reduce the intake of high protein items mentioned above in your diet as such foods increases the stress on your gastrointestinal tract.
- Avoid consumption of canned or ready to eats foods that usually have preservatives that are loaded with sulfur.
There are many home remedies that help people to get rid of sulfur burps in a safe and effective manner:
- Water consumption protects the stomach from being infected by bacteria that cause sulfur burps. Water also prevents sulfur burps from causing bad breath as well.
- Herbal teas like chamomile, green and peppermint tea when consumed after meals improves digestion and eliminates toxins from the body.
- A mixture of honey and lemon which boast anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities stops growth of bacteria in the stomach and eases any existing sulfur burps.
- Brown rice is high in fiber and people suffering sulfur burps are advised to eat small quantities several times a day.
- One spoon of baking soda can be mixed with a glass of warm water and then consumed to ease acidity in the stomach and reduce sulfur bumps.
- Olive oil can be mixed into daily dishes to provide relief and prevent sulfur burps.
- How to Get Rid of Sulfur and Egg Smelling Burps. Retrieved from Wellness Bells – https://wellnessbells.com/sulfur-egg-smelling-burps/
- Sulfur Burps and Gas – Cure, Causes, Home Remedies. Retrieved from Doctor Decides – https://doctordecides.com/sulfur-burps/
- Sulfur, Rotten Egg Burps (Belching), Foul Smelling Gas, Foods High in Sulfur. Retrieved from Health Hype – https://healthhype.com/suplhur-or-rotten-eggs-burps-belching-foul-smelling-gas
- Sulfur Burps. Retrieved from Medical Treasure – https://medicaltreasure.com/sulfur-burps/
- Why Do Your Burps Have Rotten Eggs Smell? Retrieved from New Health Advisor – https://newhealthadvisor.com/Burps-That-Smell-Like-Rotten-Eggs
- How to Get Rid of Sulfur Burps. Retrieved from Authority Remedies – https://authorityremedies.com/how-to-get-rid-of-sulfur-burps/
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