Sulfur Burps: What Are They?

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A little gas from your stomach is normal, but sulfur burps smell bad and can leave you feeling embarrassed. Most burps are due to swallowed air, but sulfur-containing vegetables and other foods can also cause gas. If odorous burps are bothering you, there's plenty you can do to help get rid of them.

What Causes Burps?

Gas in the stomach and intestines is either air that entered through the mouth or other gases produced by bacteria as they break down food. According to the Rush University Medical Center, air is most often swallowed when eating or drinking too fast, smoking, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy. Wearing loose dentures can also cause you to swallow air, and drinking soda introduces carbon dioxide to the stomach, which you later burp up.

Sulfur Burps

The rotten egg smell of sulfur burps is hydrogen sulfide gas from something you ate or a gut condition or infection. Some vegetables contain sulfur compounds, and gut bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide when helping you to digest them. The Mayo Clinic lists brussels sprouts, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables as containing sulfur. Beer and foods high in protein can also produce hydrogen sulfide in the gut.

A condition called gastroesophageal reflux (GER) causes bad-smelling gases in your stomach to come out of your mouth, according to the National Institutes of Health. Partially digested food in your stomach flows up the esophagus, creating discomfort and unpleasant burps.

Giardia is an infection that might be responsible for your smelly burps. The Mayo Clinic explains that tiny parasites set up in the small intestine and cause diarrhea, poor appetite and weight loss, as well as foul-smelling burps. Giardia is a serious infection, and if you're suffering these symptoms you should see your physician right away.

Home Remedies

Treating sulfur burps at home involves making some dietary changes. Rush University Medical Center advises chewing more slowly and avoiding gum and hard candies to reduce the air you swallow. Cutting back on sulfur-containing vegetables may also help with smelly burps, but the effect varies from person to person. Experiment by removing one food at a time from your diet for two or three days to find out what triggers an attack. If your dentures are loose, go to see your dentist. You can also help keep your breath fresh by rinsing with a mouthwash after meals.

Medical Treatment for Sulfur Burps

If odorous burps are interfering with your enjoyment of life or you're worried they may be a sign of something serious, see your physician. He or she can diagnose the cause of the problem and may prescribe medications like alpha-galactosidase, which helps with digesting beans and vegetables, or simethicone, which relieves bloating.

Rotten egg burps can happen at the worst moment, but you can help reduce attacks by changing what and how you eat. Check with your doctor in case they're a sign of something more serious, and don't let odorous gas from your stomach spoil your day.