Aerophagia: A Closer Look
Did you know that we all ingest approximately 2 quarts of air when we talk, eat, or laugh per day?
Aerophagia is the medical term for excessive and repetitive air swallowing. People with aerophagia gulp so much air, it produces uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Some reasons for excessive air swallowing include: eating quickly (for example, taking a second bite before the first one is fully chewed and swallowed), talking while eating, chewing gum, drinking through a straw because sucking draws in more air, smoking (again, due to the sucking action), mouth breathing, vigorous exercise, drinking carbonated beverages, and wearing loose-fitting dentures.
People with certain medical conditions who use machines to help them breathe are more prone to have aerophagia such as those with OSA that utilize a CPAP machine, COPD, GERD, food allergies, and anxiety.
Most experts advise speech therapy to improve breathing while talking. They also recommend behavior modification therapy to become conscious of air gulping, practice slow breathing, and to learn effective ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.
Reducing and even eliminating aerophagia symptoms requires preparation and mindfulness, but it can be done by taking small bites and chewing food thoroughly before taking another one, modifying how you swallow food or liquids, eating with your mouth closed, breathing slowly and deeply, being mindful of open-mouth breathing, quitting aerophagia-producing behaviors (such as smoking, drinking carbonated beverages, and chewing gum), obtaining better fit on dentures and CPAP machines, and treating any underlying conditions (such as anxiety) that may be contributing to aerophagia.