Aerophagia – causes, symptoms & treatment


Aerophagy refers to an excess of air in the gastrointestinal tract. As a rule, when talking, eating or drinking, some air always enters the digestive tract, but in the clinical picture of aerophagia, the amount of swallowed air is so great that this leads to flatulence, abdominal pain and excessive belching.

What is aerophagy?

If there are usually hardly any problems when swallowing air, aerophagia can cause painful and chronic discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. The majority of swallowed air that has entered the stomach is expelled again when belching (burping).

If small amounts of oxygen enter the small intestine from the stomach, this often leads to flatulence, painful stomach cramps and flatulence. Especially in children, extreme amounts of swallowed air can stretch the stomach extremely and lead to complications such as gastric volvulus, intestinal obstruction or breathing difficulties.

In 2009, a study on aerophagia was published for the first time, which documented from X-rays that a group of patients had excessive bloating and symptoms related to excessive swallowing.


The causes of aerophagia are initially to be found in eating or drinking too quickly, which leads to excessive swallowing of air. Excess air also enters the stomach via carbonated drinks or chewing gum.

A stuffy nose or other breathing problems, such as excessive mouth breathing, can also be a cause of aerophagia. An anxious, nervous, or tense state can also lead to uncontrolled aerial exposure. In this respect, psychosomatic illnesses can also lead to swallowing air through additional nervousness or tension. In about nine percent of mentally disabled people, aerophagia is an expression of the disturbed coordination between swallowing and breathing.

Talking too fast also leads to aerophagia and is usually an unconscious problem. Aerophagia can also be an expression of allergies, especially lactose intolerance. Last but not least, medical devices or poorly fitting dentures can also cause aerophagia.

Symptoms, complaints & signs

Aerophagia is associated with some unpleasant discomfort and symptoms. However, these complaints are not particularly dangerous and usually do not have a negative effect on the health of the person concerned. Only in severe cases can there be a tear in the esophagus if the air pressure rises too much.

Those affected suffer primarily from a strong eructation and also from flatulence and flatulence. In some cases, the flatulence also leads to pain in the abdomen and also in the stomach. There is a feeling of fullness, which is usually very strong after ingestion of food. The stomach itself presses on the lungs, making it difficult for the person concerned to breathe.

This also reduces the patient’s resilience and leads to permanent fatigue and fatigue. Furthermore, aerophagia can also lead to nausea or vomiting, although these syndromes do not occur very frequently.

A feeling of tightness also occurs in the stomach in some cases. Furthermore, aerophagia can also lead to heartburn. Due to the permanent belching and flatulence, some patients also suffer from depression or psychological complaints.

Diagnosis & course

A diagnosis of aerophagia usually refers to persistent discomfort within a year with at least three months of continuous stress with significant swallowing of air, an increase in gas formation within the digestive tract, bloating and repeated eructations.

Other symptoms of aerophagia include bloating, exhaust fumes and reflux. If aerophagia is a dangerous side effect of other applications, the trapped air can be perceived by listening with a stethoscope outside the abdominal cavity.

This congestion can cause stretching of the stomach and cause the stomach to press on the lungs, thus hindering breathing. Due to the build-up of air pressure, aerophagia can lead to a rupture of the esophagus in severe cases.


As a result of aerophagia, various complications can occur. At the beginning of the disease, in addition to the typical swallowing difficulties, flatulence and abdominal pain often occur. In general, swallowing air leads to pronounced malaise, which continues to increase in the course of the disease.

The increase in gas formation within the gastrointestinal tract also leads to an increased feeling of fullness, which increases the pressure on the lungs. This can lead to breathing problems and an intensification of aerophagia symptoms; in extreme cases, the build-up of air pressure can cause a rupture of the esophagus. In small children, there is a risk of life-threatening intestinal obstruction as part of aerophagia.

In elderly and sick people as well as pain patients, swallowing air can also lead to respiratory depression or promote an existing disease. In the treatment of air swallowing, complications are unlikely, as the therapy focuses primarily on swallowing training.

Problems can occur when aerophagia is the symptom of lung disease. Then it can rarely come to a procrastination of the actual underlying suffering, which can cause permanent damage. If a stress disorder is the cause, it must be treated in conjunction with aerophagia treatment.

When to go to the doctor?

It is not always necessary to go to the doctor in case of malaise or atypical symptoms. Sometimes, however, mild complaints, especially if they occur temporarily or over a longer period of time, should be clarified by a doctor. And this is exactly what applies to complaints that could indicate aerophagia.

If a nausea that is considered normal, sometimes stronger and sometimes weaker, persists over a longer period of time, at least a conversation with an extensive medical history is necessary so that other underlying diseases can be detected and treated early.

Anyone who suffers for at least three months from massive air swallowing, increasing gas formation in the digestive tract as well as flatulence and constantly recurring belching should not think twice, but immediately make an appointment with his family doctor or a stomach and intestinal specialist.

The feeling of fullness, which is often described as inconsequential, as well as severe flatulence and a temporary or constantly occurring reflux must also be treated by a specialist.

If breathing in the lower part of the lungs, i.e. near the stomach, is emotionally hindered by a feeling of tightness, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment of aerophagia essentially involves changing the causative habits of chewing and swallowing slowly, eating with your mouth closed, and avoiding carbonated drinks and coffee.

At the same time, training is required to calm breathing, especially to avoid nervous tension. Some patients need to learn to stop excessive inhalation before speaking through speech therapy exercises. The treatment of subconscious aerophagia includes in particular elements such as general calming, slowing down and conscious nasal breathing, for example with the help of the Buteyko breathing technique or .

In cases where medical devices have caused aerophagia through otherwise necessary treatment, a change in therapy should be considered. A comprehensive can diagnose allergies and show appropriate measures. In drug treatment, thoracine has been shown to be helpful in some cases, drugs such as dimethicone and simethicone prevent gas formation in the intestine and can relieve symptoms.

Regulating herbal teas with fennel, chamomile or thyme can also be used. For mentally disabled people with acute aerophagia, inserting a stomach tube and administering sedatives may be helpful.

Outlook & Forecast

Due to the aerophagia, the patient develops various complaints in the area of ​​the stomach and intestines. These complaints have a very negative effect on the patient’s everyday life and quality of life. Bloating and abdominal pain usually occur . Furthermore, those affected suffer from unpleasant belching and often from bad breath .

These symptoms can also lead to irritability or psychological problems. There is also a feeling of fullness, which can lead to a loss of appetite and thus to underweight. These symptoms occur especially after eating. In the worst case, the aerophagia can lead to a tear in the esophagus, which can be life-threatening for those affected.

As a rule, aerophagia can be treated relatively well and easily. In most cases, no surgical intervention is necessary to relieve the symptoms. The sufferer can use various therapies and techniques to permanently avoid swallowing air. The course of the disease is always positive. In most cases, no further complications arise.


In order to avoid aerophagia, mouth breathing should also be avoided during night sleep. Reducing consumption of milk and dairy products and high-carbohydrate foods, and eating in a quiet atmosphere reduces much of the risk of excessive air intake. A calm manner of speaking and controlled breathing when articulating also counteract aerophagia.

You can do that yourself

Various measures can be taken to prevent the disease or even avoid it completely. When eating, the food should not be taken too hastily and quickly. Chewing and swallowing slowly and eating with your mouth closed can help. This allows the stomach to work faster. Avoiding certain foods that release gas in the stomach, such as legumes, Peppers or yeast products, can also lead to an improvement in symptoms. In addition, large amounts of carbonated drinks and Coffee should be avoided, as these lead to an increased release of carbon dioxide in the stomach. Tuxedo and chewing gum should also be avoided if possible.

Since stress is also a very strong risk factor when swallowing air, stress-reducing measures such as a balanced Diet , sufficient physical exercise or relaxation exercises such as yoga are recommended . Changing your breathing technique can also improve symptoms. Through Speech Therapy Exercises it is possible for some patients to learn to stop excessive inhalation before speaking. If the aerophagia occurs during drug treatment, it may make sense to change the drug used.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.