A little gas from your stomach is normal, but sulphur burps smell bad and can leave you feeling embarrassed. Most burps are due to swallowed air, but sulphur-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 NHS, air is most often swallowed when eating or drinking too fast, smoking, or chewing gum. Wearing loose dentures can also cause you to swallow air, and drinking fizzy drinks introduces carbon dioxide to the stomach, which you later burp up.
The rotten egg smell of sulphur burps is hydrogen sulphide gas from something you ate or a gut condition or infection. Some vegetables contain sulphur compounds, and gut bacteria produce hydrogen sulphide when helping you to digest them. The NHS lists cabbage and onions among the vegetables that lead to the production of gases containing sulphur. Beer and foods high in protein can also produce hydrogen sulphide in the gut.
A condition called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) causes bad-smelling gases in your stomach to come out of your mouth, according to the NHS. Partially digested food in your stomach flows up the oesophagus, creating discomfort and unpleasant burps.
Giardia is an infection that might be responsible for your smelly burps. Public Health England explains that tiny parasites set up in the intestines and cause diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, bloating and flatulence, as well as foul-smelling burps. Giardia is a serious infection, and if you're suffering from these symptoms you should see your doctor right away.
Treating sulphur burps at home involves making some dietary changes. Chewing more slowly and avoiding gum and hard sweets will reduce the air you swallow. Cutting back on sulphur-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 Sulphur 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 doctor. 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.