Aerophagia (var. aerophagy) is a condition of excessive air swallowing, which goes to the stomach. Aerophagia may also refer to an unusual condition where the primary symptom is excessive flatus, belching is not present, and the actual mechanism by which air enters the gut is obscure.[1] Aerophagia in psychiatry is sometimes attributed to nervousness or anxiety.[2]


Aerophagia is associated with chewing gum, smoking, drinking carbonated drinks, eating too quickly, CPAP air pressure (if it is too high) and wearing loose dentures. In people with cervical spinal blockages, inhaling can cause air to enter the esophagus and stomach.[3]


Aerophagia is diagnosed in 8.8% of cognitively delayed patients[4] where the coordination between swallowing and respiration is not well defined.[5]

Aerophagia is a dangerous side effect of noninvasive ventilation (NIV), commonly used in treatments of respiratory problems and cardiovascular critical care or in surgery when a general anaesthetic is required. In the case of aerophagia during NIV, it is normally diagnosed by experienced medical specialists who check on patients intermittently during NIV use. The diagnosis is based on the sound heard by listening through a stethoscope placed outside the abdominal cavity. Using this approach, the problem is sometimes detected later than when it develops, possibly also later than necessary. Belated detection of aerophagia may lead to gastric distension, which in turn could elevate the diaphragm or cause aspiration of the stomach contents into the lungs[6] or pneumatic rupture of the oesophagus due to extreme gastric insufflation.[7]



  1. Levitt MD, Furne J, Aeolus MR, Suarez FL (1998). "Evaluation of an extremely flatulent patient: case report and proposed diagnostic and therapeutic approach". Am J Gastroenterol. 93 (11): 2276–81. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.1998.00635.x. PMID 9820415.
  3. Krasiuk MM, Kratinov VP (July 1993). "The characteristics of aerophagy and its treatment". Likars'ka sprava. 7 (7): 114–6. PMID 8209520.
  4. Loening-Baucke V (2000). "Aerophagia as cause of gaseous abdominal distention in a toddler". J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 31 (2): 204–7. doi:10.1097/00005176-200008000-00026. PMID 10941981.
  5. Perlman AL, Ettema SL, Barkmeier J (2000). "Respiratory and acoustic signals associated with bolus passage during swallowing". Dysphagia. 15 (2): 89–94. doi:10.1007/s004550010006. PMID 10758191.
  6. RUBEN H, KNUDSEN EJ, CARUGATI G (1961). "Gastric inflation in relation to airway pressure". Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 5 (3): 107–14. doi:10.1111/j.1399-6576.1961.tb00089.x. PMID 14494855.
  7. Meyerovitch J, Ben Ami T, Rozenman J, Barzilay Z (1988). "Pneumatic rupture of the esophagus caused by carbonated drinks". Pediatr Radiol. 18 (6): 468–70. doi:10.1007/BF00974081. PMID 3186323.

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