You cover your mouth with your hand, but it's too late. The people at the next
table in the lunchroom already heard. As you turn back to your soda, you think: Where
did that burp come from?
A burp — sometimes called a belch — is nothing but gas. When you eat
or drink, you don't just swallow food or liquid. You also swallow air at the same
time. The air we breathe contains gases, like nitrogen (say: NY-truh-jen) and oxygen
Sometimes when you swallow these gases, they need to get out. That's where burping
comes in! Extra gas is forced out of the stomach, up through the esophagus (say: ih-SAH-fuh-gus,
the tube for food that connects the back of the throat to the stomach), and out of
the mouth as a burp.
Some kids find that drinking soda or other carbonated beverages makes them burp
more. Can you guess why? If you're thinking that it's because these drinks contain
extra gas, you're right! The gas that makes the drinks fizzy is carbon dioxide (say:
KAR-bon dy-AHK-side), another gas that can bring on big burps.
Sometimes eating or drinking too fast can cause indigestion,
which can make a person burp because this can send extra air into the stomach. The
same thing happens when you drink through a straw: extra air in = more burps out.
Burping is almost never anything to worry about. Everybody does it at least once
in a while, and it's very unusual for burping to mean something is wrong in a kid's
It seems like the only people who can get away with really loud burps are little
babies — their parents cheer when they burp because it means that the babies
won't feel the extra gas in their stomachs and cry. But unless you're tiny and bald,
it's probably a good idea to be polite when it's time to burp.
So what can you do if you're around people and you feel a burp coming on? Try to
burp quietly and cover your mouth. Of course, whether your burp is loud or quiet,
saying "excuse me" can't hurt either.