Mystery condition has made man burp constantly for eight months

Laura Hampson
·4 min read
Michael O'Reilly says a cup of tea brought on the constant burping (SWNS)
Michael O'Reilly says a cup of tea brought on the constant burping (SWNS)

Burping is unpleasant at the best of times, but could you imagine constantly belching for eight months straight?

This is the reality for Michael O'Reilly, 61, who has a mystery condition that has left him burping every seven minutes.

O’Reilly claims the burping was triggered by a single cup of tea, and now he breaks into burping ‘fits’.

After a golfing session went awry due to the condition, O’Reilly made an appointment at his GP. So far, medics have been unable to diagnose the reason for the belching.

Read more: Actively consuming social media could benefit your mental health, study finds

O’Reilly, from Erdington, Birmingham, says: "It just began with a single burp from drinking a cup of tea last June. It was before I went out on the golf course and the old guy I was playing with gave me a couple of boiled sweets to help as it continued during the round.

"But it only seemed to make it worse, I kept on burping. It was pretty off-putting but I thought nothing more of it - until the burps would not stop coming the next day.”

O'Reilly says his condition makes it impossible to find work (SWNS)
O'Reilly says his condition makes it impossible to find work (SWNS)

He adds that the burps seem to happen every seven minutes now, and can be as short as a single burp or a series of sharp ones.

"It's almost like a hiccup as you can't feel them coming, they just take me by surprise, and it's been an absolute nightmare,” O’Reilly continues.

"If I have Weetabix with milk that sets me off the worst but if I eat pie and chips, they aren't as bad. It is mainly whenever I have any fluids. It is just so random and I don't know what is going on. They can last for about three seconds. I just want it to stop though as it really worries me."

Read more: Nurse with long COVID hasn’t been able to taste food in nearly a year

O’Reilly believes he could have aerophagia - a condition of excessive air swallowing.

He says: "I think it could be that but so far the doctors have been unable to help. I've been prescribed medication which hasn't worked so I'm just waiting now for further appointments. I've had online sessions with a neurologist but so far nothing has stopped me burping every few minutes.

“They are really loud and getting louder. I've been searching for work but this has made it almost impossible. Who is going to employ someone who is burping every few minutes through an interview?”

Watch: What is long COVID?

Luckily, O’Reilly says that lockdown has eased the potential embarrassment as we can’t socialise as much - but he adds that he “can’t go on like this”.

“Apparently aerophagia can last up to two years which I hope isn't the case, I'm just hoping doctors can get to the bottom of it. The only time it stops is when I'm lying down on my back. If I sit in a forward crouched position, it seems to set them off,” he continues.

“People have asked if it could be down to anxiety or nerves - but I’m a relaxed, laid back kind of person so I don't believe it's that. I have Huntington's disease and suffer from insomnia too but I don't think it's connected to that in any way.”

Read more: Laughing for just five minutes a day can help you beat lockdown blues, psychologist says

According to Heathline, Aerophagia is the medical term for excessive and repetitive air swallowing. It adds: “People with aerophagia gulp so much air, it produces uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms include abdominal distension, bloating, belching, and flatulence.”

A study published in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that 56% of participants with aerophagia said their main symptom was burping, 27% suffered from bloating and 19% had both abdominal pain and distension.

If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, it’s best to speak to your GP.

Additional reporting by SWNS.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter