• Friday July 10,2020

air swallowing

In the case of aerophagia there is an excess of air in the gastrointestinal tract, which is accompanied by chronic stomach cramps, flatulence and, to a lesser extent, shortness of breath. The reason for this is usually the air swallowing with increased oral respiration or too fast chewing, swallowing and speaking.

In most cases, an aerophagia remains harmless and is treated by breathing and language training, but severe aerophagia can also cause the esophagus to rupture due to altered air pressure conditions in the stomach.

What is air swallow?

Aerophagia is a disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain, stomach cramps, flatulence, and increased regurgitation.

Aerophagia is a disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain, stomach cramps, flatulence, and increased regurgitation. In addition, patients often experience persistent bloating or even shortness of breath. The cause of these complaints is an excess of air in the digestive system, which sometimes causes unpleasant pressure on the lungs, which explains the feeling of respiratory distress.

An excess of air in the stomach occurs when the patient swallows too much air. To a certain extent, the ingestion of air is normal and remains completely without consequences. Excess air is then expelled again via belching. Too large amounts of air can not be regulated by mere regurgitation. From a certain amount of air so oxygen enters the small intestine, which can cause painful gastrointestinal spasms and chronic flatulence.


One of the most common causes of aerophagia is a stuffy nose or other airway problem that forces the patient to mouth-mouth. While no air masses get into the stomach during the breathing through the nose, during the oral respiration large amounts of air are sometimes swallowed, so that there may be painful oxygen accumulation in the small intestine. Food intake may also be the cause of aerophagia.

For example, if you eat or drink too fast, you will swallow a lot of air. In particular, people are at risk who take many carbonated drinks. If you also like chewing gum, especially large amounts of air in the stomach, which penetrate into the small intestine. Sometimes it comes to an aerography even if a patient speaks too fast.

Another cause may be poorly fitted dentures. Sometimes the aerophagia is also the concomitant of another disease. In particular, allergy sufferers with lactose intolerance often suffer from the phenomenon.

Diseases with this symptom

  • allergy
  • lactose intolerance
  • Infant colic

Diagnosis & History

Actual aerophagia is only mentioned if the patient has ongoing complaints. If individual symptoms of the above-mentioned occur only sporadically, then it is probably not the phenomenon, but a normal regulatory phenomenon of the gastrointestinal tract.

However, anyone who continuously suffers from flatulence and stomach cramps within a year, for example over three months, may be affected by aerophagia. The doctor sets the diagnosis mainly on the basis of the anamnesis, which gives him important information on the individual eating and speech behavior of the patient. Under certain circumstances, the physician excludes other clinical pictures on differential diagnostic procedures and ensures the diagnosis of aerophagia by listening to the patient with a stethoscope.

In most cases, aerophagia are not threatening in their course. Only in extreme cases, variants of the disease occur, which can tear the esophagus due to a greatly increased air pressure in the stomach. To such extreme cases, it can sometimes come when the patient after a diagnosed aerophagia does not initiate measures to prevent the air swallowing.


In principle, the swallowing of air is indeed to be seen as a very unpleasant, but harmless symptom. Nevertheless, complications may also occur in swallowing air. In general, all consequences of air-swallowing in the wider sense can be regarded as a "complication". So it usually comes to more or less severe abdominal pain and quite strong flatulence.

These symptoms are usually a burden for the patient. It sometimes comes to pronounced malaise. However, if the ingestion of air is very severe, serious complications can occur that can endanger the health and sometimes even the life of the patient. Especially in infants there is a risk of intestinal obstruction in the context of a pronounced air swallow. Such is considered life threatening and requires immediate therapy in the hospital.

Another possible complication, which can occur in extreme cases, is the tearing of the esophagus. This life-threatening complication also occurs when large amounts of air are swallowed, putting a lot of pressure on the esophagus, which ultimately can not stand it anymore. In addition, it can come in respiratory distress in the context of pronounced flatulence, as they often occur with air-swallowing.

When should you go to the doctor?

It is perfectly normal that air is swallowed when eating or drinking. Therefore consulting a doctor is not necessary. Those affected can chew more consciously and slowly and should abstain from carbonated drinks.

Inadvertent air ingestion, however, can lead to such amounts of air in the abdomen that the abdomen is greatly inflated. The affected person has the feeling that the heart is being pulled out of him. Although this can be self-treatment with Lefax, fennel or caraway tea. But it is better if the doctor investigates the causes of the increased air swallowing. Aerophagia can cause severe discomfort, flatulence and chronic gastrointestinal discomfort in adults.

Especially when this phenomenon occurs in children, serious complications can occur. If children repeatedly complain of abdominal pain, a visit to the pediatrician should be considered. The ingestion of air can have such dramatic effects in children that it can lead to gastric volvulus, intestinal obstruction or difficulty breathing. If suspected of such consequences immediate action is necessary. Without timely medical intervention may well exist danger to life.

The doctor can test affected adults for food intolerances. He can question nutritional, drinking and eating habits. The physician should also exclude psychosomatic reasons for the ingestion of air. In the worst case, swallowing the air in adults can lead to tears in the esophagus.

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Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of air swallowing is a causal one. The patient learns in the therapy to give up exactly the habits that caused the excess of air in the stomach. One starting point is, for example, the learning of markedly slow chewing and swallowing with the mouth completely closed. In some cases, a change in diet may be indicated. Carbonated drinks as well as coffee and chewing gum are deleted in the course of this, for example.

Incorrect speech habits can be adapted in terms of speech therapy, if they are related to excess air in the digestive tract. Frequently, the therapy is accompanied by breathing exercises designed to relax the patient. On the other hand, the patient gets to know nasal breathing in these exercises. In part, yoga practices are used for the purpose of the breathing exercise.

If the air swallowing is associated with medical equipment or dental implants, the excess air therapy may be replaced or switched. Herbal teas such as fennel or chamomile are often used to relieve acute symptoms. Appropriate drugs may regulate gas formation in the intestinal tract.

In rare cases, the use of sedatives accompanies the therapy path. This measure is required, for example, for severely frightened patients or people with intellectual disabilities.

Outlook & Forecast

The ingestion of air is a relatively harmless symptom. It has no medical impact on the human body, but can be very uncomfortable for the patient. In most cases, the ingestion of air causes severe flatulence, abdominal pain and a strong regurgitation after eating.

Often, the flatulence also presses on the lungs, causing breathing difficulties. This is relatively rare. This condition is physiologically caused in babies and toddlers. The affected person has a feeling of bloating and suffers from severe flatulence. Such flatulence can be very unpleasant, especially in a social environment, and can lead to social problems.

In general, the problem can be treated easily, as it comes from a wrong food intake and breathing technique. The treatment should be done in any case together with a doctor, so that the air swallowing disappears. As a rule, the ingestion of air occurs mainly in stressful situations, whereby a conversation with a psychologist can be helpful in analyzing these situations. The treatment can also be carried out with drugs, which in particular prevent and fight the bloating after swallowing the air. The ingestion itself must be treated by the patient.


Air swallowing can be prevented by pronounced slow chewing and swallowing with the mouth closed. Consciously slow speech is also a suitable preventive measure. In the case of nutrition, the avoidance of carbonated drinks serves the purpose of prevention.

Relaxation practices and conscious nasal breathing can also help circumnavigate the disease. In addition, the clarification of allergies may be required, as can be seen for example lactose intolerances, which may play an increased role in the development of aerophagia.

You can do that yourself

If someone has trouble swallowing, he should take action. The lack of air balance may be due to wrong eating habits or an excess of carbonated drinks. Also, lack of exercise can play a role, because a sluggish intestine can not dissipate too much intake air again.

The first step is to check the eating behavior and find out why too much air is swallowed. The eater may be stressed or distracted while he is eating down the food. In this case, decelerating the food and consciously chewing can provide relief. Consciously eating often helps. In case of aerophagia, people should preferably drink still water.

If it is suspected that you have swallowed too much air again, gentle tummy massages can provide relief. A walk after each meal serves to stimulate the intestinal peristalsis. Those affected can provide with fennel tea for short-term relief. Should the ingestion of air become a mental problem, a doctor should be consulted.

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