To burp, alas...
May 19, 2010 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I can't burp (manually or otherwise) and so frequently feel awful/bloated/nauseous after meals. What is this?

I'm trying to track down the cause of a problem that isn't heartburn, isn't just gas, and isn't anything else in particular insofar as it seems to have a very particular set of symptoms and (lifelong?) traits. To wit:

1. You never, ever vomit (and it's totally debilitating if/when you do)
2. You are unable to burp, manually or otherwise
3. Air/gas gets caught somewhere between the stomach and mouth, making an up-and-down gurgling noise/sensation, followed by a sense of pressure in the lower throat which can become almost painful and causes waves of nausea
4. Because of these, the person tends to avoid carbonated drinks totally as they can ruin the evening of such a person by causing lots of pressure and nausea
5. Standard treatments for gas/heartburn/acid reflux (including things like Pepcid, Rolaids, and Tums) either don't affect the symptoms, or do so poorly and slowly

Anecdotally, one night I took the maximum dosage of Gas-X for as long as I had the sensation starting at 8:00PM (the nausea was very bad that night and I was sick of it) until eventually, at 3AM driving home, I thought for sure I was about to throw up (to reiterate, this is the worst thing I can imagine short of losing a limb). I pulled over, there was a horrible wrenching sensation, and giant geyser-burps shot out of my throat. Shaking, I drove home without any further symptoms.

I Found a few people describing this same basic thing here. Any ideas what would cause this? As someone who doesn't currently have health insurance, my options for addressing/professionally diagnosing this aspect of my life are pretty limited but I'd like to at least know what might be causing it. Is it perhaps a hiatal hernia, aggravated by overeating and compounded by infrequent GERD?
posted by Phyltre to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My mother makes noises like that when her hiatal hernia acts up.

But really, GERD/reflux issues can be serious stuff and can eventually contribute to esophageal cancer. As someone who's lost a loved one to it, I really think you should look into paying a doctor to explore what's really going on here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:33 PM on May 19, 2010

Welcome to the club. Ginger Gravol, Gas-x, and Diovol tablets or anti-gas Maalox, kind of usually covers all bases for me depending on symptoms. Definitely avoid the carbonated drinks.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:55 PM on May 19, 2010

I basically scrambled to click on "more inside" because I have THE SAME symptoms. I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia like 5 years ago, and with GERD 10+ years ago. I, um, also get a really thick mucus in the back of my throat whenever my stomach is at its worst... usually if I have eaten too much, drank alcohol, too much soda, or any seemingly random time it feels like occurring. I get the weird noise in my chest, can occasionally burp (only on accident, completely unexpectedly, and usually when my head is turned sharply to one side... weird). The noise in my chest happens after any time I eat or drink *anything*. I missed about 2 months of 11th grade because of nausea so intense that I couldn't get out of bed, and have dropped about 30 pounds extremely quickly on two separate occasions because of very intense nausea that persists over a few months at a time (still don't know why it has happened that way, in long bursts like that).

As far as I know from past investigations by the gastroenterologist, I don't have anything besides the hiatal hernia and GERD. The only thing that really works for me is to be aware that my stomach has little to no valve to close it off from my esophagus, and live accordingly (no lying down right after eating, limiting intake of certain foods/drinks, lots of sleepless/sitting-up nights whenever my stress level is extra high).
posted by so_gracefully at 11:16 PM on May 19, 2010

Well, based on my limited chem knowlege, most of those antacids are producing CO2, water, and a salt or similar. They also include anti-foaming agents and ingredients to form a neutralizing barrier to stop excess stomach acid from rising into the esophagus while they work (which causes heartburn). However, most/all (?) do produce CO2, so that's just excess gas and probably not helping your problem. I'd avoid tums and the like if I were you.

Beyond that, I have no idea, but I hope you find a solution! A quick google search pulled up about a billion results of similar situations, but I couldn't find any solutions. So, at the very least, you seem to be very much not alone!
posted by R a c h e l at 11:19 PM on May 19, 2010

My symptoms aren't quite as bad as yours (maybe 80 percent as bad?), but I do have a hiatal hernia. I have found only two things that have helped:

1. Eat way, way, way less food at any given meal. My friends think I'm weird, but it has reduced my discomfort enough that I am now able to drive myself home in a car after eating without feeling like I'm going to be sick.
2. Carbonated beverages actually help me. The only time I can burp is after I've had a coke. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if I drink a coke with dinner if provides just enough gas to allow me to burp later and release any extra air I swallowed when I was eating. And it helps me freak out less about the uncomfortable sensations and nausea because I know where the sensation is coming from and that the gas is eventually going to come out.

I used to not be able to burp at all, but once I started paying to attention on the rare occasions it did happen, I noticed I had to be pretty relaxed. I have serious anxiety about throwing up too, so I wonder if anxiety isn't part of my burping problem (maybe you, too?). I hope this helps- I envy people who can burp and belch >.<
posted by Mouse Army at 4:14 AM on May 20, 2010

That was me before my gall bladder gave out on me. Once that process started I began to burp (and after 24 years of not burping it was totally shocking and I'm sure I offended a lot of people because I genuinely had no idea how to handle it). I then got pregnant, threw up a lot, started getting stones jammed in the ducts with attendant excruciating pain and violent vomiting* then eventually I got it removed and the burping settled down, no pain, rarely ever feel sick (unless I eat a bunch of fatty stuff).

*I vomit very violently. Arms spasming, legs flailing, peeing myself, the works. I always have. I hate it so much. That aspect hasn't changed.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:25 AM on May 20, 2010

Yeah, I was going to suggest something like Mouse Army's #2. Your mileage may vary, of course, but maybe you need to practice burping so you can learn the difference between burping and vomiting. You might be stifling burps because of your vomit terror.

(Or not. Could be the hiatal hernia, could be gallstones, could be an esophageal stricture. Do not take my advice.)
posted by gjc at 5:03 AM on May 20, 2010

I had an issue where it felt like something was stuck in my throat, and I am pretty sure now that it was air. I also had chronic acid reflux/heartburn. After an upper endoscopy, my ENT said I had a slight hernia and prescribed the generic version of Prilosec, omeprazole. I never have heartburn since taking it and it has cleared up the other symptoms. I know you said you have tried Pepcid and that is famotidine, so omeprazole is a different medication. It's also available without a prescription. Of course IANAD.
posted by soelo at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2010

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