Aerophagia : Overview, Symptoms and Causes
What is aerophagia?
The proverb, “excess of everything is bad”, takes a different level of height when we talk about the condition aerophagia. Could you imagine that there would be a condition in which excessive breathing would be the main problem? Yes! , the condition of aerophobia which has annoying gastrointestinal symptoms is characterized by inhaling or swallowing excess amount of air and that too more frequently than normal. Symptoms like irritation in the abdomen and bloating forces the patient to consider medical attention when not even taking healthiest diet works to reduce them. There are some physical causes attached to this condition but interestingly, it is speculated that the real cause of aerophobia may reside in some mental factors.
Are aerophagia symptoms really worth to consider?
When people intake excess air, mostly during eating something, they usually expel the extra amount of gas by burping, which amounts to the half of this excess gas. Also some amount of this air is ingested to the stomach and further pushed into the gut to reach the rectum. Then from the anus, this remaining extra air is released in the form of gas. It is obvious that this behavior of burping and flatulence is normal and people do not face any problem while releasing the swallowed excess gas. However, in aerophagia, the person takes in too much excess air than normal which causes these symptoms of burping and releasing gas, along with other symptoms such as bleaching, bloating and abdominal pain, to become annoying. In a study, it was seen that bleaching was the most common symptom of this condition. Pain and the abdomen and bloating was seen to be apparent during the day time and reduced in the morning. This was due to the release of extra gas during the night. Some people with this disorder suffer from air gulping and flatulence being highly audible which causes them to be embarrassed and can lead to mental health issues.
What are the speculated causes of aerophagia?
There are some causes which can lead to stimulate this behavior of taking too much air. These causes are related to:
Some health conditions can really affect the way you breathe. For example, some patients need the assistance of machinery to aid breathing; these patients are prone to developing aerophagia.
Usually people who had to be put on ventilators are the victims of this condition. An example of the condition where people need non invasive ventilation for breathing is sleep apnea. As this condition is managed by using CPAP machine, which is an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure, it gives us a hint that the patient suffering from it has some kind of dysfunctional muscle in the throat. It is necessary for the doctor to cautiously set the air pressure in this machine while the patient inhales it through a mask. This is because patient often swallows too much air while being on this medical management machinery. Diseases, like COPD, in which there is some kind of obstruction in breathing, also need the assistance of these machines which can cause aerophagia
It must be interesting to know that there are many stress management techniques that a person with anxiety does involuntarily as a defence mechanism against that stress. As confirmed by a study, there are many people with these kinds of mental discomfort who develop aerophagia in order to cope up with their condition. Anxious people burp less and swallow more air than people with normal indigestion related causes. This shows us that there is a potential connection between mental health and gastrointestinal symptoms caused by aerophagia
Other causes of aerophagia include:
- Not eating correctly
- Not closing mouth while eating
- Using straw to drink beverages
- Cigarette smoking
- Frequently chewing gum
- Breathing through mouth which can also happen as a marker of mental issue
- Not taking proper rest between exercises
- Carbonated drinks
- Dental problems
Are there any diagnostic measures of aerophagia?
Usually this condition is accidentally diagnosed while treating some other condition such as GERD, Irritable bowel syndrome or obstruction in it, allergies. There are not tests to directly diagnose this condition but its diagnosis is more of a trial and error based method. This means if there are no other causes of your symptoms, then only you may be diagnosed with this disorder.
Aerophagia treatment and management
The clinical treatment of aerophagia only includes taking medications to reduce the symptoms such as bloating stomach, bleaching and abdominal pain. However, your doctor may advise you certain measures you can take to reduce this condition:
- Talking to a therapist for your anxiety
- Learning to breath while talking from a speech therapist
- Wim Hof breathing techniques can help this disorder significantly
Management of this condition include:
- Eating correctly which will include chewing food properly
- Learn to not let you mouth be open while eating
- Quit smoking
- Be conscious of your condition
Aerophagia may seem a condition not worth attention as it does not causes any significant complications. However, aerophagia symptoms can become annoying and may even interfere with your day-to-day activities. You may be well aware of aerophagia treatment and management techniques but it can take time to relearn the basic activity of breathing. Meanwhile you can always let go of the uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms that come along with this condition by simply contacting Alfa Gastro and Liver care.