Are Sulfur Burps Dangerous – How Can I Prevent Them?

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Sulfur Burps and What Causes Them?
  2. Are They Dangerous?
  3. Are They Treatable?
  4. How to Prevent Them
  5. References

Burping is something everyone does, often without thinking about it. A normal bodily response to taking in excess air, burping usually occurs after eating, drinking, consuming carbonated beverages and smoking. Other factors, such as wearing loose dentures, can also contribute to burping.

But some burps are worse than others. They can be loud. And sometimes they smell awful.

Sulfur burps, often described as having a “rotten egg” smell, rank among that group. There are reasons sulfur burps happen, and there are effective ways to treat and control them.

What Are Sulfur Burps and What Causes Them?

Sulfur burps are those quick, uncontrollable exhales of air that have a sulfurous smell. Your body produces this smell when hydrogen sulfide gas is released as you burp.

This particular gas is released due to a variety of factors. Certain foods such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions, whole grains and dairy products may be to blame, particularly for anyone suffering from GERD.

An infection like giardia or GI problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also be to blame for sulfur burps.

The one piece of good news: Not everybody who has an infection or GI issues will develop sulfur burps.

Are Sulfur Burps Dangerous?

If sulfur burps stem from something you ate, such as brussels sprouts or dairy products, they are not dangerous.

But if you have a chronic acid reflux condition like GERD, sulfur burps are a sign that you need medication or a change of diet to get your symptoms under control.

Infections like giardia or gut bacteria imbalances can be problematic. If you have sulfur because of an infection or gut bacteria issue, seeking treatment from your doctor is required.

Are They Treatable?

Sulfur burps do not always require treatment, and in many cases medical intervention is not required. If you have an infection like giardia that is causing sulfur burps, your doctor can prescribe a medication or a combination of medications that will help.

For people with gastrointestinal issues or people who discover that they can’t control their burps, doctors will turn to medications to relieve gas, bloating and other stomach issues. These drugs are usually taken as needed, and once under control, you may be able to stop taking them altogether.

Discuss treatment options with your doctor if changing your diet doesn’t alleviate sulfur burps from your life.

How Do You Prevent Sulfur Burps?

Sulfur burps don’t always require prevention. If you only have them once in a while and you feel fine otherwise, no intervention is required – although you may want to plan ahead and carry mouth spray, breath mints or specific types of gum (see below) to make social interactions better.

If these smelly burps cause you distress or are more common in your life than not, you can take some preventative measures. Those include:

  • Changing your diet. Certain foods, leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables in particular, can produce sulfur burps. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, artichokes, whole grain food products including brown rice and bread may be culprits.

  • Cutting back or eliminating dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and prepared foods with lactose like certain salad dressings can produce sulfur burps in some people.

  • Skipping soft drinks and carbonated beverages. Replace these drinks with plain water where you can if you’re searching for the root cause of sulfur burps.

  • Avoiding candy and gum products that contain sorbitol. These products may produce more gas in the body.

  • Trying an elimination diet if certain foods or drinks seem to be causing sulfur burps. (Pro tip: Keep a checklist of foods and drinks you try removing from your diet to narrow down your search.)

  • Making sure your dentures fit properly if you wear them. Loose dentures can lead to you swallowing excess air, which can in turn produce more burps.

Sulfur burps can be unnerving and lead you to believe that something is seriously wrong with your body. For many people, sulfur burps are caused by something that they ate, and once they’ve passed, they won’t come back.

Chronic sulfur burps can be controlled through diet for many sufferers. If you have a serious infection like giardia or a disorder like IBS or GERD, your doctor can prescribe medication to help you get gas, bloating and other GI symptoms under control.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.