Sulphur or 'rotten egg' burps might worry you, but they can be easily corrected. However, if you experience eggy burps along with nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or if they become a regular occurrence, it may indicate a more serious underlying health problem that needs further investigation. In such cases, it's advisable to consult your GP, who can help identify the true cause of your symptoms and arrange appropriate treatment.
We have compiled some information about the causes of sulphurous burps and ways to alleviate the symptoms, which we hope you’ll find useful.
Typically, burps are odourless, but when they come into contact with hydrogen sulphide in your gut, they can produce a strong smell resembling sulphur or rotten eggs.
Hydrogen sulphide is a natural by-product of digesting certain foods, and it is often associated with something you have eaten. It can also be a result of an infection or a long-term gut condition. Let's explore each of these factors:
Hydrogen sulphides that cause the smell in burps are particularly associated with the breakdown of certain foods. Some of the main culprits include:
Since everyone's digestive system reacts differently to various foods, keeping a food diary can help you identify the specific triggers. Once you know your trigger foods, you can avoid them to prevent future bouts of eggy burps.
Research has shown that infections in the digestive system caused by H. Pylori bacteria and Giardia parasites can lead to sulphur burps. If you have one of these infections, you will likely experience other symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. In such cases, it's best to visit your GP for testing so that appropriate treatment can be arranged if necessary.
To learn more about maintaining a healthy gut, you can read our article on How to Have a Healthy Gut | AXA Health, written by our in-house nutrition experts.
There are other potential causes to consider, including:
If you experience these symptoms, you should discuss a referral to a gastroenterologist with your GP to assess your condition.
The treatment for sulphur burps depends on the underlying cause and may involve eliminating trigger foods from your diet. The following tips may also be helpful:
If avoiding trigger foods and making lifestyle changes don't provide relief, medication is available to treat sulphur burps.
If tested positive for H. Pylori, your GP may recommend a course of antibiotics and Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) medication. Commonly prescribed PPIs include Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, and Pantoprazole, which reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.
If tested positive for Giardia, your GP may prescribe a course of antibiotics.
Please seek advice from your doctor to discuss appropriate treatment for your sulphurous burps and any other symptoms you might experience.
Information provided and reviewed by the team in the AXA Health 24/7 health support line for members.
Giardiasis – NHS factsheet
Tips for a healthier gut – AXA Health
Love your gut: The ‘Super 3’ Exercises for better digestion – AXA Health
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