Ever felt that you have suddenly started to breathe too much without any extra physical exercise? One reason this could occur is that you might be facing a condition called Aerophagia. The condition is not very common or harmful to a greater extent, but it is something that concerns many people who mistake it as a serious medical issue.
In most cases, the problem of Aerophagia is related to the nervous situation of a person or anxiety. It is also referred to as a gastrointestinal problem. Basically, instead of the air going to the lungs, it passes down the esophagus and goes to the belly.
Why do I Swallow So Much When I Eat?
As far as swallowing food is concerned, one may swallow in high amounts when and if they are facing certain neurological issues. It can be seen in people who face blood pressure issues as well.
Aerophagia may occur when a person swallows too much air while eating or drinking. And the chances of this happening are high because a normal human being swallows about 2 quarts of air every day through eating and drinking. Half of that comes out in the form of burps while the remaining half passes out in the form of flatulence.
This may seem normal and quite really it is unless you are suffering from Aerophagia where the air swallowed inside is beyond the natural limits. There are different types of uncomfortable symptoms of Aerophagia.
Symptoms of Aerophagia
People who are suffering from Aerophagia are most likely to have abdominal bloating. A person may feel upper and abdominal discomfort. You might feel full without eating a large quantity of food. There can be mild to severe pain in the stomach depending upon how worse your condition is. People have also experienced swollen bellies when they suffered from Aerophagia.
In medical terms, this is called as Angina and may be resulting from swallowing of air. One can feel pain in their chest as well as feel it tightening. Though this usually happens if there is any heart issue, it can become a symptom of Aerophagia as well.
It is highly likely that you vomit due to some kind of food problem but there is also a major chance that you vomit because of swallowing excessive air. People who have swallowed excessive air may sometimes immediately vomit. Some people burp while vomiting and this occurs because excess air has been swallowed in the intestine of the body.
Shortness of Breath
With bloating and discomfort, a common symptom seen in many cases was shortness of breath. Some people may feel that they are unable to breathe properly because of excessive air inside their bodies. Shortness of breath is a symptom that may vary from person to person. If someone has a blood pressure problem, they may face this problem more intensely compared to someone that does not have a blood flow problem.
Burps and Flatulence
Since the air has entered the body, it has to exit from somewhere as well. Most likely, if a person is facing Aerophagia, they will be burping more and will also pass down gas through flatulence. In many cases, people do not even realize that they have swallowed excessive air and just consider it as something that occurred due to over-eating or other diet-related problems.
However, this misconception needs to be cleared and it should be accepted that Gastrointestinal problems can also be caused by air swallowing. There can be different types of bowel disorders as well which can result due to Aerophagia.
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Sometimes, patients with Aerophagia may go up by a dress size in only one day. Others reported a weight increase of about 5% over time. This can occur because of excessive gas floating in your stomach and not exiting. On the other hand, some patients also reported that weight loss is a common symptom of Aerophagia as the body sensitively responds to this condition. Since a person starts to feel less hungry, there is a reduced food intake which may result in weight loss.
Who is Most Likely to Suffer from Aerophagia?
People who chew gum frequently are at a higher risk of suffering from Aerophagia. If you or someone you know eats with their mouth open, they also have a chance of facing Aerophagia. The digestive tract or immune system might be undergoing any particular disorders, most likely which are temporary, and this may also lead to Aerophagia.
People who talk on the phone or with someone else while eating are more likely to gulp more air. Moreover, those who drink water at the end of the meal may also feel this problem of bloating. It can lead to other types of gastrointestinal problems as well.
Bad news for those who take a lot of carbonated drinks and beers, because that is one of the primary causes of suffering from Aerophagia with compressed carbon dioxide entering your body along with the drink. You may have noticed that right after you drink a can of coke or beer, you feel heavy although you have only consumed a regular amount of drink. This happens because of temporary Aerophagia happening due to the high intake of carbon dioxide.
Smokers are also in the high-risk category because they are already inhaling a large quantity of air some of which may not pass out right away.
Doctors also say that if a person is facing severe anxiety or a high continuous airway pressure, the chances of Aerophagia are quite high. People who have neurological disorders can also suffer from Aerophagia. You may also face this problem if there is a CPAP machine that you are using. The CPAP machine is mostly used for people who have sleep apnea or breathing problems while sleeping. This device blows air into the nose and mouth which can lead to swallowing air higher than normal.
There are many other possible reasons mentioned why swallowing air could hurt. Read here – Why does swallowing an air bubble hurt?
Does Aerophagia have any Treatment?
There isn’t a drug announced specifically to cure the condition of Aerophagia. Although many doctors may suggest medicines for passing out excessive gas in the intestines such as simethicone and dimethicone that might not create Aerophagia in the long run.
However, Aerophagia can be treated with different types of therapies but requires a long time. Human behavior needs to be modified in a way that the excessive gulping of air is restricted, and the person no longer has to feel this way. One example of this could be that doctors might restrict you completely from speaking while eating. With concentration solely on food and no speaking, there is a very low chance that you gulp-in any excessive air.
As many experts suggest that the condition can be a neurological disorder rather than a physical one, there are psychiatrists as well who treat Aerophagia. Aerophagia may occur due to high levels of stress, depression, or anxiety with a breathing rate also increased more than normal.
A person may talk at a high speed or in a stressful tone which may potentially cause air swallowing. Doctors have suggested speech therapy for such patients so that they are able to control their anxiety and stress in different situations. This will help such patients to recover from Aerophagia in the long term.
In case one does not have any severe medical problem and is facing Aerophagia due to habits, the only possible way to treat it is to have these habits eliminated. For example, as we mentioned, smokers are at a high risk to catch this problem. If they do, the only thing one can do to treat it is to quit smoking. If one does not quit smoking, there is going to be a further problem for them.
Similarly, eating habits matter a lot. If one is eating in a hurry or eating constantly while talking, he or she would require controlling their eating habits else they will be gulping more air every time they eat which will aggravate the issue. Experts believe that Aerophagia is easily curable if the person who has it is not persistent in any bad habits.
For people who are using a CPAP machine that helps in breathing while sleeping, they should also consider checking up with their doctor and consult regarding this issue if they feel any of the symptoms mentioned above. The doctor could help in adjusting the machine or the intake of oxygen as per your condition.
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The number of cases of Aerophagia are increasing because people are having certain habits that cause this problem. With poor eating habits, more smoking, and high intakes of carbonated drinks, most common people are at a high risk of catching this problem. It is a painful experience, and no one would want that so it is better to follow the suggestions mentioned and try to control any poor habits which might cause this issue. Stay Safe!