Burping can be caused by stressful situations or anxiety, and we all know how embarrassing this can be.

Those around you are likely to think that your burping is because you either ate a lot of gassy foods, or…you’re just, well, uncouth.

So why does stress or anxiety cause burping anyways?

“Stress can cause esophageal spasm and that can cause air to be trapped in the esophagus and cause ‘stress burping.’ Swallowing air can also be a nervous habit,” says Larry Good, MDa practicing gastroenterologist for 40+ years. He has a private practice based in Lynbrook, NY and is affiliated with Concierge Choice Physicians, a leading provider of personalized care in the U.S.

The esophagus is your so-called food pipe. It is a muscle, though not the type of muscle (skeletal) that you use to bench press a barbell. Any kind of muscle can go into a spasm.

Though an esophageal spasm can cause chest pain–sometimes intense–there are times when an esophageal spasm cannot be felt.

However, despite that, they may produce a burp due to that trapped air that Dr. Good points out.

So what can you do about this embarrassing problem? 

It is pretty tough to just knock out all the stress in your life. But what you can focus on doing is altering the way you respond to anxiety-provoking situations.

If you are in an intense business meeting, where people will hear you burping, take some deep breaths and stay calm.

If you are undergoing stress or anxiety, make sure you are not in the habit of swallowing air, including when you gulp beverages. Few people like to hear others burping.

dr. good

Dr. Good has additional expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease, and is extremely proactive in genetic testing, individualization of pharmacologic treatment, and risk mitigation in cancer screening and prevention.