When you have excess air in your stomach, it usually comes out as a burp. Usually the burp will have a smell of the food that you ate, but sometimes it will come out smelling like rotten eggs. This is a condition that is known as sulfur burp, and they can be very embarrassing and unpleasant, especially if they happen in the presence of others.
The real reason why the burp smells so badly is hydrogen sulfide (H2S). If you eat foods that have sulfur proteins in them then you may find yourself burping the H2S, which will smell like rotten eggs. The sulfur reducing microbes in the intestine digest the proteins and release the gas.
People of all ages can expel H2S when they burp, and this is especially common in pregnant women. During pregnancy the digestive process slows down, and this may be the reason why it is common. If sulfur burping comes with diarrhea, or vomiting, then you should see a doctor immediately, since these are the first signs of irritable bowel syndrome.
What are the causes of sulfur burps?
The first cause could be an infection in your gastrointestinal tract (GIT) caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. This can cause gastric problems, heart-burn, bloating sensation in the upper abdomen and sulfur burps. Another reason is through a parasite called Giardia found in water bodies. This is a parasite and causes people to have sulfur burps. The parasite can lead to the development of ulcers, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Both Helicobacter pylori and Giardia infect humans through poor hygiene, oral-fecal transmission, and untreated water.
Another cause is improper eating patterns. If you eat heavy protein meals and sugary foods, then these may lead to you having sulfur burps. Since heavy protein meals stay longer in the stomach and intestine, you may find a larger amount of H2S building up in your GIT. Once the gasses reach a certain amount they will leave the body as burps with a rotten egg smell.
Prescription medicines have also been known to cause this condition. If the medicine contains sulfur then there are high chances of emitting H2S in your burps.
Another cause is a condition known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). There is a delicate balance that prevails in the intestine of the flora or bacteria found there. Someone with Celiac or Crohn’s disease may have a larger amount of bacteria which leads to sulfur burps.
Are there foods that cause sulfur burps?
In order to avoid getting sulfur burps, you should not eat certain foods at certain hours of the day. Several foods cause this condition to occur. High protein foods are the largest culprits when it comes to producing sulfur burps. This is because the food will stay in the stomach for longer as the protein is digested. The result is excess H2S coming out of your mouth. Sometimes the burps are so subtle that people may find it hard to identify who is burping if you have to be in a crowd.
You should avoid foods such as Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Whey protein, peas, Sweet potatoes, Asparagus, Cabbage, beans, soy, etc. You should also avoid red meats, canned foods, eggs and dairy products. Avoid cola, coffee and tea. Also avoid cashew nuts, bananas and coconuts.
How do you treat/avoid sulfur burps?
- You should increase your intake of water since this will help in digesting the proteins.
- You should avoid foods that have a lot of sugar.
- You should slow down on alcohol intake.
- In order to detox your gut, you should take herbal teas.
- Avoid carbonated drinks which will only serve to increase the burping.
- You should take high fiber foods which help in digestion.
- You should stop taking foods that are ready-to-eat or canned.
- If you take a glass of warm water with honey and lemon every morning, then you remove the chance that you will develop sulfur burps during the day.
- Half teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a little glass of water can also help tide over the embarrassing problem. Do not take it on a full stomach. Pregnant women, those on sodium-restricted diet and children should check with a doctor before taking the concoction. Do not consume baking soda with antacids.
- You should talk to your doctor if the condition persists, or comes frequently. Pepto-Bismol works by binding the H2S, thereby eliminating sulfur burps. It is indicated to be given for adults and children above 12 years of age. There is a specific Children’s Pepto Antacid for those below 12. One may find black stool or black tongue after taking this medication, this is because the active ingredient involved is bismuth, which combines with sulfur in your burps and gastrointestinal track and forms black-colored matter called bismuth sulfide. The ‘black color’ is harmless and transient. It may even last for some days after you stop Pepto-Bismol, and eventually go away.
- If there is a bacterial overgrowth in your GIT then you should take some antibiotics, after checking with a doctor.
- If you happen to be taking medication with sulfur, you can ask your doctor for an alternative treatment.
- Conditions such as Crohn’s disease should be treated or managed.
- You should also try to remove sulfur proteins from your diet.
All in all, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor whenever you experience sulfur burps. Although the condition may be an innocent occurrence, you should not ignore it if it happens for more than a day, or occurs frequently. If you are developing irritable bowel syndrome, then you should get help immediately. Otherwise try some of the home remedies mentioned above before you visit a doctor.