How to Stop Swallowing Air and Prevent Aerophagia

Taking in too much air 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 and mouth breathing.

By tracking the results you get from avoiding a potential cause for several days, and especially reintroducing it, you can pin down what makes you swallow 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 and can reduce the amount of air they swallow 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 your stomach. 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.

Heartburn or acid reflux after eating can cause burping and belching that then leads to swallowing too much air. An effective natural treatment for heartburn is ginger tea if you find yourself gulping air with an upset stomach.

An ongoing inflammation of the stomach lining, GERD or a gastritis ulcer can also cause heavy belching and swallowing too much air, particularly after a meal.

In these cases, strong abdominal pain is usually present and swallowing air excessively is a symptom of a more serious problem that needs prompt professional attention.

Slower Eating Means Less Swallowed Air

It’s very beneficial to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This is important, not just for swallowing air, hiccups and belching, but for proper digestion as well.

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 your food properly.Air in tummy

One of the worst things a person could do is rush a meal close to bedtime. Hurried eating is bad enough for digestion and swallowed air. Do this right before bed and you are really asking for trouble with too much air in your stomach and further digestive problems.

Eating slowly, at least two hours before bed, lessens the chances of both swallowed air getting into the digestive tract and wider digestion issues.

What is Aerophagia?

The simple definition of aerophagia is when you swallow too much air into your gastrointestinal tract. The term usually refers to swallowing air subconsciously and at levels high enough to cause gastrointestinal problems.

Most people swallow a little air when speaking, eating or drinking. But in cases of aerophagia, the amount of swallowed air is so large it can cause abdominal bloating, intestinal pain and excessive burping, belching or hiccups.

The majority of swallowed air is usually burped back out, but with aerophagia the air may regularly pass from the stomach into the small intestine. When you lie down to sleep at night this amount is likely to increase significantly.

Once this air is in your gastrointestinal tract any that is not absorbed into the small intestine (primarily oxygen), has to go somewhere. That passage out often leads to abdominal bloating and painful intestinal cramps.

Aerophagia and Anxiety

When you are anxious, nervous or tense you may swallow air without realizing it. Too much caffeine from coffee can contribute to this but stress at work or in personal relationships is also often a factor.

Talking too fast is another stress related behavior that can lead to gulping in breaths through the mouth and swallowing too much air.

High levels of tension and anxiety also increase your breathing rate and can even lead to hyperventilation where you are exhaling more than you inhale and swallowing excessive air.

These kinds of aerophagia usually start subconsciously and are often side effects of other problems that need to be made conscious and addressed.

Slowing down, breathing through the nose and becoming more aware of your breathing in general is a good place to start. This process helps to become aware of problematic behaviors and begin letting go of them.

Too much swallowed air

How to Stop Swallowing Air Subconsciously

A cure for behavioral or subconscious aerophagia usually involves calming down, slowing down and becoming conscious of always breathing through the nose to avoid swallowing air.

A specialist can discuss possible treatments but ahead are a few simple suggestions that may help.

4 Unusual Ways to Calm Down

‘Calm down’ is an easy thing to say to someone, so instead, here are 4 tangible things that have helped me personally to relax, let go and get to sleep easily.

  1. 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.
  2. Improving indoor air quality can lower elevated cortisol levels, associated with stress and anxiety. I use an ionic air purifier in my home. The high levels of negative ions it produces, similar to the air at the beach or beside a waterfall, definitely helps lower tension and calm your mind.
  3. The Sedona method is a unique 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.
  4. Sleep Soundly by MindSync is not music, but rather gentle running water sounds with embedded frequencies that guide your brainwaves down into the sleep phase. It can be especially useful when there are outside noises when you are trying to sleep as it tends to block out distractions and prevent them from waking you.

A good night’s sleep makes a big difference to preventing aerophagia the following day. When you start the day off already tired it isn’t long before the stress hormones are taking over just to keep you going.

Once you’re getting proper sleep, replacing coffee or cola and its jittery caffeine ‘energy’ can really help as well. Caffeine stays in the body for a very long time and it’s very hard to be calm and peaceful after a strong coffee.Coffee anxiety

Consciously Slowing Down

Slowing down is something you really have to be conscious of for a while until it becomes a habit. It’s well worth the effort though.

Try and watch yourself during the day and see all the ways you get yourself to rush around. If you are swallowing too much air then all of this hurried behavior often contributes to the process.

It helps to appreciate that there is a certain energy to it that you may subconsciously be going for. But also recognize that it’s a stressful form of energy that ends up aging you, graying your hair and potentially leading to future problems.

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, increasing your anxiety and subconsciously swallowing air.

Mouth Breathing Versus Nose Breathing

In recent years, many scientists and healthcare 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 people being treated for serious disorders.How to stop gulping air

For someone already in a weakened state, the lack of oxygen from mouth breathing can have a devastating effect. With the exception of during heavy exercise, breathing through the mouth is something you really want to avoid.

If you become aware that you are swallowing air or breathing through your mouth during the day, it’s 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 wellness and wellbeing 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.

Snoring isn’t just annoying (mouth breathers are much more likely to snore), it’s quite damaging to your body (and quite likely your relationship too).

Nose strips to reduce snoring are helpful for many people, but serious snorers may need to also use a special tape over the mouth to train themselves to avoid mouth breathing during sleeping.

This can be an important first step. Learning to breathe properly though, with a method like Buteyko, would give a person the best chance to improve their breathing, stop swallowing air, prevent aerophagia and enjoying the calm, stable energy that comes with doing so.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 37 comments


Bernard Campbell

Am having a hard time with bowel movement and constantly pooping but what i notice been happening is am swallowing plenty air , my question for you is it the air am swallowing causing my bowel problem ?


My adult daughter swallows air. She does not speak or sign. She gets much air in her stomach and I need to let it out through her g tube (feeding tube). I cannot always get all the air out. Then she gets gas pains…I believe the whole cycle is the cause of its self. Just not sure how to help her get off this merry go round. Any ideas how I can interrupt this on going problem for her. She’s 35 and has been doing this for awhile. I think it’s a nervous habit but kinda fuels itself. I think abdomin discomfort is causing her to feel anxiety about her discomfort and not being able to do anything about it…then she starts swallowing air as a habit which perpetuates the problem.
We have tried acid reflux medication and ended up with other problems. Now I give her antacid medication but it does nothing for this air swallowing habit which is the cause of the other problems. She uses a feeding tube and does not take food by mouth. She can have her teeth brushed and enjoys having them brushed. I can give her things to taste that dissolve on her tongue. Thanks for any ideas…

Edna Riley

I have suffered from aerophagia since my teens. It manifests itself by constant burping but unable to expel air. Eventually the build up of gas in my stomach causes feelings of nausea and to get rid of this I have to put my finger down my throat which then releases huge amounts of air but leaves me feeling unwell for several hours. It is severe when in a social gathering when eating. I have consulted my doctor with no help being offered. I am at my wit’s end, can anyone help?

    James Dillan

    Hi Edna,

    I wish I could be of more help but I think it would be worth seeking out a specialist in this area. Most GPs wouldn’t have experience treating this properly unfortunately and it sounds like a specialist is required here.

    I’d invite anyone reading who had success treating aerophagia to reply to Edna directly in the comments.

    All the best in your healing,



Hello. I’m a 15 year old boy. I started swallowing air/saliva about 2 days ago (Today is June 29) It all started when I was rubbing my Adams apple. That night, I was having trouble sleeping because I kept wanting to swallow and it was annoying. I’m still doing it and I feel like my blood pressure is starting to rise because of it. I don’t know if it’s puberty or a problem. I hope you can help.


I’ve been dealing with an abdominal distension going on three years now. Gained nearly ten inches in the upper abdomen right below the ribcage. It’s constant and does not change. No belching, no pain, no gas and so on, although when I bend over or lean forward even a little bit, it’s so tight that I am immediately out of breath and sweating. Abdominal CT, gall bladder sonogram, x-rays and two days in the hospital looking for heart problems yielded nothing. Which I guess is good.

The only things I can think of – I have sometimes swallowed a lot of air in response to anxiety when I was having trouble breathing. Also drank a lot of selter water and eventually got a Sodastream. Haven’t done that in over a year but it hasn’t helped. (I also drank seltzer water for years before this became a problem with no issues). My diet is generally pretty healthy. Nothing horrible.
I took probiotics (supplement) with no results (hate, hate, hate yogurt, I think it’s disgusting so it’s doubtful I could include that in a diet). Tried gas x the other day to see if it would help but it didn’t.

Suggestions welcome. Thanks for the article.

    James Dillan

    Hi there and sorry to hear about your situation.

    That it is so constant sounds like a problem that should be diagnosed directly. Perhaps a good natural practitioner can suggest different treatments to a conventional doctor.

    Activated charcoal could be worth trying for absorbing intestinal gas but it does require specific timing as described in the article.

    All the best,



My sinuses drip non stop! Thick! I swallow air every time I very surprised that this problem wasn’t mentioned. Ok, I thought I was strange! Now I’m sure!!hahaha. Swallowing thick mucous, so it doesn’t go into my lungs…works more effectively with some air behind it… but now I have gassy belly and gas. Whaaa! A nurse told me I was a lunatic, when I explained that my flatulence was a direct cause of swallowing air.. so, I GOOgled it! NOT LUNACY IS IT? thank you!

    James Dillan

    Hi Joanna,

    Yes this could certainly be a cause. I hope you can find someone who can help treat this.

    All the best,




Rachael Carey

Hi James,
Hi from the UK – and thank you for your help!
I have recently realised that I swallow huge amounts of air when I drink (non carbonated drinks). It’s as though I’ve forgotten how to swallow properly! This causes a good deal of discomfort and bloating – and often pain.
Are there techniques I can employ to re-learn? I’m guessing I’m rushing/ stressed, but when I consciously slow down it’s as bad or even worse!
Kind regards,


Is it possible that coughing (especially when eating) can be a symptom of mouth breathing.
Whenever I eat, or sometimes even drinking water, will trigger coughing.
Does anyone else experience this?


I’ve been having bloating issue for quite few years. I dont drink soda and beer once a while. I dont breathe through my mouth, but I definitely notice my breathing has been rather shallow. I tried to cut down food that might trigger the excessive bloating, but then I realized that even drinking small amount of water in the morning lead to bloating right away. My main concern is that after my stomach gets bloated, I always have a hard time passing gas and burping. Its like the air just gets stuck in my stomach, and it looks like a big baloon thats kind of hardened. Sometimes it gets like that when Im hungry. So whenever the stomach growling happens for a little while, my stomach will start to get bloated. As I suck in my stomach and then release it, I can hear a weird sound my stomach makes. Majority of the time, my stomach gets so bloated that I look like Im pregnant for 6 months of something. Its scary and very uncomfortable! I had endoscopy as well as colonoscopy, but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I feel like maybe there is something wrong with my esophagus or the way i swallow water and food because i can literally hear that gulp sound. Thats another reason why I believe Im taking in lots of air as I eat and drink. I was never in a rush or anything so I dont know what causes the excessive air intake. Also, only if I can pass air after I get bloated will really help a lot with the discomfort that I have. The problem is the air just stays inside and gets trapped:/ I also feel more tired and heavy.


    JW, I have had a similar condition. After 7 yrs of seeking conventional and non conventional medical solutions I finally found a specialist doctor (Gastro-entomologist)who performed a ” Lapo fundiplication ” .to memory that’s what it was called. That was 2001 when I was 49. I am fit, rarely go to a doctor,more active than most but am a high energy “fix it now” personality. The operation remarkably reduced the frequency of this desire to vent air from my stomach. I was told the problem was excess acid coming into the oesaphagus. I am on “nexium”, an acid blocker.Now 14 years later the problem is re-occurring. My GP advises that it has done well to last 13 yrs . It is a process via key hole surgery to tighten the junction between the oesaphagus and the stomach.
    Soon I will have another endoscopy to determine whether the “banding” as the procedure is called is intact.
    I gather the operation procedure is not best practice any longer . I can’t help believe that it is primarily a digestive problem. However to eliminate that as a theory I have undergone extensive elimination tests. Diet has been tested and various food groups have been eliminated,via trials with extreme discipline and will power, such as eating only certain vegetables for a week.eliminating sugars to nearly zero, no bread, no fruit, only protein , no alcohol etc etc. interestingly, if I have less than 6 hrs sleep, obviously not desirable, it becomes a problem. A quick 20 mins sleep relieves the problem, so stress is relevant. A couple of paracetemol before bed assists and again at 2am. ,no more than 6 a day.
    I will keep you posted.


I care for special needs kids and many of them have bloating that interferes with breathing deeply enough and also the pain of gas causes their cerebral palsy spasms to worsen. Some have excessive oral secretions and others have dry mouths from meds. I have found that putting them across my lap to relax can help. Also venting g tube is important and often missed. Gas drops given routinely seems to help prevent it.. I think another causitive factor is that they overextended their necks making it more difficult the keep your mouth closed in sleep. Good luck to us all..


    Hi, James,
    I swallow air constantly and burp frequently, but there is still way too much air in my stomach.
    I have excessive amounts of saliva and I swallow it as it builds up too much, and probably the small bubbles in the saliva just add to the problem.
    My high blood pressure is also a concern. Is this related to my problems?


    Hi there,

    It does all sound related, but it’s not possible to determine without a one on one diagnosis. I personally prefer a good holistic healer who looks at the entire system rather than just suppressing individual symptoms with drugs. Often a search for this term in your local area will help, though it’s best to look for reviews and lots of experience.

    Alternatively, some good doctors do take a more balanced approach beyond just pharmaceutical dispensing. Once again, I’d research the person before making an appointment.

    Regardless of who you choose, it would be important to see someone and get a professional perspective on the root cause of these problems.

    All the best in your healing,



Hi I do seem to be quitegassy and bloated and stressed and rushed. Im sure I am swallowing air, i also fund if I have a gassy day I also poo a lot just small soft ones- is that related to the swallowing air/gas/bloating? And what do I do?


Hi James,

I have CFAP, and excessive gas as a result of anxiety over school after a few traumatic experiences. I wanted to know how to stop it when I’m constantly anxious at school. When I’m anxious, I have gas, and when I have gas I become even more prone to anxiety.

School wears me out completely, and I don’t know what else to do because I’ve tried everything. Do you think aerophagia could be causing it all? Because I’m breathing improperly as a result of being anxious for hours on end?

Thank You, With Warmth,
Catherine, a 9th grader looking for some relief


I have dysphagia from after effects of radiation and if I swallow, air always goes down but sometimes causes a “bubble” that prevents firer swallowing. Any ideas how to get around that?


Something that hasn’t been touched on so far in this discussion. – I have narrow nasal passages and really cannot get a good lungful of air if I breath through my nose. I had a deviated septum dealt with years ago, but as I get older it’s becoming more difficult to nose breath. Though I’m only an occasional snorer, I sometimes use anti-snoring devices simply to get a good breath of air at night and not get a dry mouth from mouth breathing. I believe there is a surgical remedy, but I haven’t yet been willing to go there.
It’s only recently I realised this problem could be the cause of my long term gas problems. What do you think?


    Hi Liz and thanks for your comments.

    That’s an unusual situation you describe. With aerophagia there is usually a gulping of air that can force extra gases into the digestive tract. I’m not sure whether your situation would be causing gas problems but I do know there can be health issues with mouth breathing and perhaps it would be worth consulting a specialist on this.

    All the best.


    Liz, I have been through a very similar situation. Unfortunately it took many years of my own trial and error to understand my condition better because of the lack of understanding of the “experts” that I paid to “fix” me, from the medical community. To see if your nasal passage is truly narrow, try this test. Take a deep breath and hold for as long as you can. If you are able to hold for at least 35-45 sec. you will be able to use this method. Imeadeatly after the breath hold check to see if it is any easier to breathe through your nose. If you find that your nasal passage has opened, then overbreathing may be your issue. The nasal passage is designed to narrow when CO2 levels are lower than ideal. When you breathe through your mouth you short circuit this natural feedback loop. This causes too much CO2 to be lost, blood vessels constrict and the body is not properly oxygenated. This also can cause poor digestion and gas especially if it occurs while sleeping.


    Hi Brad (and Liz),

    I have almost exactly the same problem with Liz, I’m a fit early 50s and while I’ve always had small nostrils, the problem seems to be slowly getting worse, to the point where I seem to always have to breathe through my mouth during the night, and that usually when wearing a nostril dilator. The more forceful automatic breaths that happen during sleep appear to pull my nostrils together so they close even more, which only the dilator can prevent, but as my nose tends to get a bit congested a lot, even the opening higher up is only about big enough for minimal oxygen intake, a bit of exercise and I don’t get enough. I’m really worried about the long-term health effects of all this, and it is already affecting my sleep a lot as sometimes I struggle to go back to sleep and my mouth and teeth are affected. I also have terrible air swallowing as a result of this many nights, and recently also during the day, maybe stress makes it worse I think.
    I tried your test, Brad, and I’m not sure I could breath much better, maybe a little, so it was a bit inconclusive. Any other advice would be appreciated. Did you find any help with it, Liz? I have already had some of the nasal swelling tissue burned away by laser years ago but it only helped a bit and things seem to be deteriorating slowly now. I wonder whether polyps could also be involved.

nasreen johnson

hi i goot lots of guidance from your advice i liked the sedona method and the gamma meditation which i never heard of before.which is best meditation for depression and anxiety aklso one to sharpen my mind you are really great1!!!…


Thanks for this informative article. I was trying to find ways to reduce swallowing of air, as I do it a lot and end up in lot of gas in my body. After reading this, I would start doing some of them like avoiding drinking fluids while eating, eating slowly while chewing properly, drinking fluids slowly and not in rush. Eating at least 2 hours before bed and reducing the amount of caffeine I take in tea and coffee. Thanks !!


    Hi Shilpy and thanks for your comments. I hope these suggestions work to reduce the amount of swallowed air your experiencing. I wish there was a simple solution but it seems to often be a case of trying many different possibilities until you find what works for you.


aerophagia – it’s says don’t drink soda for a bit, eat slowly, calm down, well i don’t drink soda, i don’t eat fast and i’m as calm as you can get when i swallowing air in fact i’m asleep.
so how do i stop that, i’ve woke myself up doing it.????????


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