Last revised by Candace Makeda Moore on 30 Sep 2019

Pathologic aerophagia is a rare condition caused by excessive and inconvenient air swallowing. It is a self-limiting condition affecting mainly children exposed to high grades of stress but can be a persistent problem in children with psychiatric or neurological disorders.

Clinical presentation

  • severe persisting abdominal distention: minimal in the morning, maximal in the evening
  • abdominal pain
  • belching/burping
  • reduced appetite
  • audible air swallowing: pathognomonic of the disease
  • functional intestinal disorders: mainly constipation
  • respiratory restriction in cases of extreme abdominal distention

Radiographic features

Plain radiograph

Plain radiograph shows diffuse gastric, small bowel and colon distention without signs of obstruction.


  • volvulus
  • intestinal necrosis or perforation
  • death in severe cases

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