Excessive belching and diarrhea are two symptoms involving opposite ends of the digestive tract but can sometimes be due to the same cause. However, in most cases there is usually no common causes of excessive belching and diarrhea despite these symptoms occurring at the same time. It is important to look at which conditions may cause both belching and diarrhea at the same time.
Excessive Belching vs Diarrhea
Belching is a normal digestive process. The gas released in these eructations is mainly due to swallowed air. This air swallowing occurs in every person. It happens with eating and talking as well as with rapid breathing. However, there are instances where air swallowing is excessive and can therefore lead to excessive belching. There are other possible causes of the excess gas in the upper gut as well.
Diarrhea on the other hand is the passing excessive stool. Technically this is having more than three bowel movements in a day where the stool is watery. It is not an uncommon occurrence, often happening a few times in a year even in otherwise healthy people. Most of the time the diarrhea is acute, associated with viral infections and often resolves quickly on its own.
Read more on recurrent diarrhea.
Although both excessive belching and diarrhea are gastrointestinal symptoms, it arises from opposite ends of the alimentary tract. Excessive belching is a problem arising from the upper gut whereas diarrhea is a problem with the lower gut. Despite the alimentary tract being almost 30 feet (approximately 9 meters) in length, these two symptoms can sometimes be related.
Causes of Belching and Diarrhea
Some of the possible causes of excessive belching with diarrhea have been investigated further. However, it is important to note that excessive belching and diarrhea can occur for indepedent reasons but occur at the same time. Therefore it may be mistakenly associated with each other.
Read more on excessive belching.
Other symptoms may accompany the belching and diarrhea. This includes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, excessive flatulence and sometimes even the presence of blood in the vomitus or stool. The presence of a combination of these symptoms may indicate a specific cause.
Certain foods and beverages can be responsible for both excessive belching and diarrhea. Apart from foodborne infections, these consumables may contain substances that contribute to increased gas production which results in excessive belching while irritating the bowels that leads to diarrhea. Usually the excessive belching starts within minutes after eating the substance. Diarrhea may then commence several hours or even or day or two later.
Overeating may also be a factor in both belching and diarrhea. Excessive air swallowing may occur with overeating and eating very fast. This gives rise to the belching. The increased food content in the gut can stimulate faster bowel motility which can lead to diarrhea. This may also hamper normal digestion and unabsorbed nutrients in the gut can draw out water from the body and result in diarrhea as well.
Several lifestyle factors can contribute to both excessive belching and diarrhea. It may occur with strenuous physical activity like vigorous exercise. Mouth breathing is a common cause of excessive air swallowing and mouth breathing is a common occurrence with strenous physical activity. The movement with vigorous exercise and playing certain sports that requires running or jumping can also stimulate bowel motility and may lead to diarrhea.
Both tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption may also be factors in excessive belching and diarrhea. It is more likely to occur with consumption of large quantities of these substances. Smoking leads to air swallowing and carbonatd alcoholic drinks increases gas within the upper gut. In both instances, excessive belching may occur. Tobacco stimulates the bowels while alcohol can irritate it thereby resulting in diarrhea. The use of illicit drugs may also be a cause.
Food intolerances are common gastrointestinal problems. It arises when there is a problem with digesting certain nutrients. The most common of these is lactose intolerance where the body cannot digest the milk sugar, lactose. It is due to a deficiency of the enzyme known as lactase. The symptoms of lactose intolerance include both excessive belching and diarrhea. It tends to arise a short while after consuming milk or other dairy products.
There may also be an intolerance to other substances. A similar condition is malabsorption syndromes. This is where the body cannot absorb certain nutrients. Sorbitol, fructose and gluten intolerance or malabsorption syndrome could also contribute to excessive belching and diarrhea. However, various other substances could also pose a problem to sensitive indiviuals and are therefore worth investigating.
Gastrointestinal infections are frequent occurrences in both children and adults. These infections may be due to viruses, bacteria or protozoa (single-celled parasites). This results in gastroenteritis and/or enterocolitis. Excessive belching and diarrhea are common symptoms. Viral gastrointestinal infections are common among children and tend to occur in small outbreaks, often referred to as the ‘stomach flu’.
Sometimes the infections agents (viruses, bacteria and protozoa) are not present but its toxins may still contaminate food and water. This can therefore cause food poisoning, which is a broad term for gastrointestinal conditions caused by consuming food and beverages. It is a common condition that is seen in travelers, particularly those traveling to developing countries and contract a gastrointestinal infection from contaminated food and water (traveler’s diarrhea).
Non-Infectious Gastrointestinal Conditions
There are a host of non-infectious gastrointestinal conditions that can give rise to excessive belching or diarrhea. Few are responsible for both conditions. However, these two symptoms may be seen together in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can vary depending on the severity of each condition as well as which type of IBD or IBS is present.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is not only a condition of the bowels (intestines). Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the alimentary tract and may cause localized symptoms in the region. In irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D), there are frequent reports of excessive gas (belching and flatulence) with diarrhea occurring simultaneously for no clearly identifiable reason.