Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
When a person has sulfur burps, or burps that cause a “rotten-egg smell”, it usually indicates that you have a digestive problem. It is normal after a heavy meal to burp a couple of times because this is necessary to help pass all the gas that is trapped in your digestive tract but it is not normal to have that type of smell.
Sulfur Burps Causes
Having frequent sulfur burps are attributed to the production of hydrogen sulfide in your digestive tract. Many times this is caused by eating too much protein foods that contain sulfur. One type of diet that may cause sulfur burps is a high meat diet. During the digestion process the friendly bacteria that is found in your intestine promotes the breakdown of animal proteins from the meat products you consumed. The production of hydrogen sulfide is caused by the metabolism of animal proteins by the gut bacteria. If you have a high meat diet the more hydrogen sulfide will be produced resulting in being eliminated from your body as sulfur burps. In addition your stomach enzymes plays a crucial role also in the breakdown of animal proteins but if there is not adequate secretion of these enzymes there is an excessive amount of hydrogen sulfide produced. This cannot only cause sulfur burps but also foul-smelling flatulence.
Other cause of sulfur burps can include:
- Infections of your gastrointestinal tract – if you have an infection of the H. pylori bacteria it could affect the lining of your stomach and cause ulcers. This can also lead to excessive sulfur burps. Because these types of burps are considered one of the symptoms of having an ulcer they are sometimes referred to as ulcer burps. You may also suffer from sulfur burps if you have a parasitic infection of your small intestine called giardiasis. You can get either of these two infections by poor hygiene, oral-fecal transmission, and unclean water sources.
- Diet – in addition to eating a high meat diet excessive consumption of other sulfur protein-rich food like eggs, dairy products, vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, legumes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and onions, poultry products, and fruits like bananas, avocados, and watermelon can cause you to have sulfur burps. One of the most common reasons to have these types of burps is eating elaborate meals that are rich in sulfur protein foods.
- Certain medical conditions – having gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) celiac disease, or pancreatitis.
- Gastroparesis – this medical condition is when the transition of food from your stomach to your small intestines slows down causing the food to remain in your stomach for a longer period of time. Delaying the emptying of your stomach can cause sulfur burps.
- Certain medications – this can include frequently taking sulfa drugs or sulfur-containing medicine which is frequently used as antibiotics you can suffer from these types of burps. Read the prescription labels and if you see the word “sulfur” in any of the ingredients of the medicine you will most likely get sulfur burps if you take the medication.
- Food allergies – eating or drinking foods that you are allergic too can also cause sulfur burps.
How to get rid of sulfur burps?
There are many different ways that you can get rid of sulfur burps which can include:
- Taking medications that will help to absorb the excessive hydrogen sulfide from your colon. This is the treatment that is most often used. One such medication is Pepto-Bismol tablets.
- Taking medication that will help to reduce the production of excessive stomach acids like Prilosec, Zegerid, and Prevacid.
- Modify your diet by reducing the excessive consumption of sulfur-protein rich foods. You should also make sure that you are avoiding sugary products like chocolate, cakes, cookies, and pastries.
- If it is caused by celiac disease you should switch to a gluten-free diet which means no rye, barley, or wheat in addition to a low-sulfur diet.
- If it is an infection caused by H.pylori your physician will prescribe antibiotics for seven to ten days.
- If the cause is from giardiasis your physician will give you a prescription for an anti-parasitic medication.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently instead of three large meals a day. Eating large meals will release a large amount of bile to help digest your food and could cause sulfur burps.
- Chew your food properly because if you do not it will take a long time to digest the food. Taking a long time to digest your food will allow it to ferment and produce gas and sulfur burps.
There are many different home remedies that you can try to help eliminate sulfur burps like:
- Drink herbal tea instead of carbonated beverages, especially after eating.
- Increase your fluid intake to help improve digestion.
- Drink a glass of warm water with lemon and honey in it each morning will help to eliminate sulfur burps during the day.
- Drink two glasses of plain warm water before you eat breakfast
- In a glass of water mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and drink it once a week.
- If you are going to eat beans soak them a few hours before cooking them or soak them overnight to allow the elimination of soluble carbohydrate. This is what is responsible for the production of gas and sulfur burps.
- Use coconut or olive oil to prepare food.
Sulfur burps and diarrhea
There are times when you have sulfur burps you will also have foul-smelling flatulence and diarrhea. Many times if you have diarrhea with sulfur burps it is because you have giardiasis. This parasite lives in your intestine and is passed out in your stool. Having loose or watery stool and diarrhea are symptoms of this parasitic disease.