There are many potential causes of excessive hiccups, regular belching and mild aerophagia (swallowing air) so it’s important to identify the primary culprit or culprits for you personally. Start by eliminating the simpler known causes for a few days and notice whether the symptoms lessen.
It’s worth keeping a note of the following suggestions for how to stop swallowing air. By tracking the results you get from avoiding a potential cause for several days, and especially reintroducing it, you can pin down why you are swallowing air excessively and reduce or eliminate it.
Importantly, if you have a serious case of aerophagia you should seek medical advice from a specialist. Many people though will see improvement with some of the simple changes ahead.
Common Practices That Lead to Swallowing Too Much Air
Drinking carbonated drinks, such as acidic soda or beer, sends carbon dioxide straight into our stomachs (and simple sugars which encourage more intestinal bacteria). Give them a rest for a few days and see what effect this has on your symptoms.
Drinking with a straw, rushing and slurping or gulping down liquids and drinking from a water fountain are all likely to introduce extra air into the stomach. Try slowing down when you drink. Drinking a lot of liquid during a meal is also worth avoiding as it hampers proper digestion.
Chewing gum, sucking on hard sweets and smoking cigarettes can all lead to swallowing excess air. For some people one of these will probably be a little harder to give up, but it’s definitely worth it if you value your health.
Slower Eating Means Less Swallowed Air
It’s very beneficial to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This is extremely important, not just for swallowing air, hiccups and belching, but for proper digestion as well and can greatly reduce the amount of undigested food in the large intestine. Undigested food feeds the bacteria in the colon that are also a major cause of excessive flatulence.
Rushing eating and gulping down your food, especially when eating with your mouth open or talking, can send a lot of air into the stomach and lead to abdominal bloating and cramps. Aside from the simple enjoyment of it, there’s a lot of value in taking the time to taste our food properly .
One of the worst things a person could do is rush a meal close to bedtime. Hurried eating is bad enough for digestion and swallowing air. Do this right before bed and you are really asking for trouble with stomach gas and poor digestion leading to flatulence problems.
Eating slowly, at least two hours before bed, lessens the chances of both swallowed air getting into the digestive tract and wider digestion and flatulence issues.
Subconscious Mouth Breathing
A cure for behavioral or subconscious mouth breathing or aerophagia usually involves calming down, slowing down and becoming conscious of always breathing through the nose to stop swallowing air. A knowledgeable healthcare professional can discuss possible medical treatments but ahead are a few simple suggestions that may help.
‘Calm down’ is an easy thing to say to someone, so instead, here are 3 tangible things that have helped me personally to relax, let go and get to sleep easily.
- For relaxing, the Gamma meditation is a recording that you listen to with headphones on that will completely transport you away from whatever is stressing you out. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a great reset on a busy day.
- The Sedona method is a way of letting go and releasing emotions rather than suppressing or expressing them. For something that starts off sounding so simple, it will nothing short of change you life.
- The Super Sleep CD is not music, but rather ocean type sounds with embedded frequencies that guide your brain waves down into the sleep phase. It can be especially useful when there are outside noises when you are trying to sleep. The wave-like sounds tend to block out distractions and prevent them from waking you.
A good night’s sleep makes a big difference. When we start the day off already tired it isn’t long before the stress hormones are taking over just to keep us going.
Once you’re getting proper sleep, replacing coffee and its jittery caffeine ‘energy’ can really help as well. Caffeine stays in the body for a surprisingly long time and it’s very hard to be calm and peaceful after a strong coffee.
As an example, I used to always sleep in for as long as I could before getting up for work. As a result, I was often rushing to try and avoid being late. I realized at some point it was the energy of rushing around I was subconsciously going for.
Once I became aware of what I was doing, I could consciously see that the early morning stressful energy was setting me up badly for the rest of the day. I decided to get up 15 minutes earlier and get to work in a more relaxed way.
Simply becoming conscious of slowing down and giving myself more time in the morning, led to a big change in how relaxed and calm I was for the entire day. The tone you set at the start of the day often stays with you for the rest of it.
I’ve found Qigong breathing exercises first thing to be an incredibly beneficial way to start the morning. Whatever you find works best for you, I’d suggest giving yourself the time to start the day in a relaxed way is really important.
Try going to sleep a little earlier and waking a little earlier. That extra 15 – 20 minutes can make a big difference to your stress levels the next day by giving you the chance to slow down and take your time. This alone may help avoid the type of situations which used to lead to rushing around and subconsciously swallowing air.
Mouth Breathing Versus Nose Breathing
In recent years, many scientists and health care professionals have become interested in the importance of breathing through the nose, rather than the mouth, especially when sleeping.
Excessive mouth breathing during sleep can cause poor uptake of oxygen, deterioration in the muscles of the throat, jaw deformities, respiratory problems, bad breath, gum disease, a weakened immune system, snoring and sleep apnea, and fatigue and poor health in general.
Mouth breathing when sleeping, can be particularly dangerous for those already ill. Researchers have found that the early hours of the morning have a significantly higher mortality rate for sufferers of diseases like angina pectoris, stroke, asthma, seizures, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and coronary spasms. For someone already in a weakened state, the lack of oxygen from mouth breathing can have a devastating effect on their health.
With the exception of during heavy exercise, breathing through the mouth is something we really want to avoid. If you become aware that you are swallowing air or breathing through your mouth during the day it’s really important to slow down and come back to calmly breathing through the nose and from the diaphragm.
If you’re having trouble remembering to do this, or would just like to improve your breathing in general, it’s worth looking into the Buteyko breathing method. Improving the quality of your breathing is closely related to improving your level of health and well being and the Buteyko breathing method is one of the best ways I’ve found to do this.
Breathing properly through the nose during the day also increases your chances of avoiding mouth breathing when sleeping, which is even more important for your overall well being. Snoring isn’t just annoying (mouth breathers are much more likely to snore), it’s actually really damaging to your health (and quite likely your relationship too).
This can be an important first step, but ultimately, learning to breathe properly with a method like Buteyko breathing and using the associated Frolov breathing device would give a person the best chance to improve their breathing, stop swallowing air and enjoying the calm, stable energy that comes with it.