What Causes Sulfur Burps?

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Sulfur burps are burps that have a rotten egg smell. Occasional sulfur burps are usually harmless.

Infrequent sulfur burps may be the result of something you ate. This is especially true if you eat a diet high in foods that contain sulfur. Frequent sulfur burps, though, could be a sign of an illness or digestive problem.

This article discusses the causes of sulfur burps and how to prevent them. It also discusses some of the remedies for this problem, and when you should see a doctor.

What causes sulfur burps?
Verywell / JR Bee 

Causes of Sulfur Burps

It is normal for the digestive system to produce gas. This gas is expelled by burping or as flatulence, through the rectum.

Digestive gas can happen when you swallow air. When bacteria in the digestive tract breaks down food, that can also produce gas as a byproduct.

Sulfur burps happen when the digestive tract creates a gas called hydrogen sulfide. This gas is not always present in the gas people expel. More typical compounds include:

  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Oxygen
  • Hydrogen
  • Sometimes small amounts of methane

Most people see themselves as excessively gassy, but this isn't usually true. It is normal to pass gas 14 to 23 times a day. When your gas is abnormally foul-smelling, there may be an underlying problem.

If you have sulfur burps, it's most likely because of something you ate. Eating or drinking too quickly can cause excessive burping.

Some people might get excessive gas or sulfur burps after eating certain kinds of food. Other people may eat the same foods and not have any gas at all.

This may be because the type and balance of intestinal bacteria is different for everyone. Food also moves at different rates through different digestive tracts.

Foods

For some people, these high-sulfur foods may increase the risk of getting sulfur burps:

  • High protein foods
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Whole milk

Other foods that have less sulfur can still cause excess gas in some people. These include foods that are high in sugars, starch, or soluble fiber.

Certain vegetables are also known for causing gas, including:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Beans

Some artificial sweeteners can also cause excessive gas and bloating. Soda and carbonated beverages also have this effect.

Eating or drinking certain types of foods can cause excessive burping. These include carbonated drinks and foods naturally high in sulfur.

Medications

Certain medications can cause sulfur burps. If you have recently started a new medication, talk to your doctor.

Preventing Sulfur Burps

The following tips may help you to prevent sulfur burps:

  • Eat slowly to avoid swallowing air.
  • Avoid chewing gum or smoking. These activities can cause you to ingest excess air.
  • Avoid foods high in sulfur.
  • Avoid overeating. Instead of eating a few very large meals eat several smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcoholic beverages can be high in sulfur.
  • Reduce or eliminate carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid foods high in sugar. High carbohydrate foods generally cause excessive gas. This is because the bacteria in your digestive tract feeds off of the sugar. Bacteria in your gut can also create hydrogen sulfide gas.

Recap

You can prevent sulfur burps and excess gas. Avoid eating too quickly or eating too much. Avoid foods that are high in sulfur and sugar and reduce your alcohol consumption.

Home Remedies for Sulfur Burps

Infrequent sulfur burps are not harmful. Still, they can be embarrassing or bothersome. Try the following home remedies to help relieve symptoms:

  • Peppermint tea can aid digestion. It can also decrease bad breath. Other herbal teas that may help include green tea and chamomile tea.
  • Activities like walking can help gas move through your system more quickly.
  • Laying on your left side while resting or sleeping may help you pass excess gas.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. To aid digestion, try drinking a full glass of water before each meal.
  • Try an over-the-counter antacid or Alka-Seltzer (simethicone). Alka-Seltzer does not eliminate excess gas but helps it pass through your system more quickly. Follow directions carefully and do not use more than the recommended dose.
  • Try apple cider vinegar. Take a spoonful a day.
  • Try baking soda. Add one small spoonful to a glass of water. Do not take more than one spoonful of baking soda per day. Do not combine with other antacid medications.
  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) is an over-the-counter medication used to treat diarrhea, heartburn, and upset stomach in adults. This medication should not be taken with aspirin.
  • Probiotics are foods and products that contain live bacteria. They are thought to be beneficial to overall health and digestion. Probiotics may be helpful if the bacteria in your digestive tract is unbalanced. Keep in mind that research on the normal bacterial flora in your digestive tract is limited and emerging.
  • Manuka honey is thought to kill harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.

Recap

There are many home remedies for sulfur burps and excess gas. These include antacids, probiotics, and peppermint tea. It may also be helpful to increase activities like walking.

When to See a Doctor About Sulfur Burps

Frequent sulfur burps may be related to an underlying illness. If you have one of these conditions, you will likely have additional symptoms.

See a doctor if you also have extreme abdominal pain or cramping, abnormal bowel movements, or frequent diarrhea or vomiting.

While this is not a complete list, some of the following conditions have been linked to sulfur burps:

Summary

Infrequent sulfur burps aren't usually a cause for concern. They can be caused by certain foods or medications. Home remedies like walking, drinking tea, and taking antacids can help.

If you have frequent sulfur burps and other symptoms like abdominal pain or diarrhea, see a doctor. Your sulfur burps could be caused by an underlying illness.

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Article Sources
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