A few beers supped, a hefty meal gobbled down, a fizzy drink tossed back too quickly down a parched throat. 

Then the floor, the table and even the air itself seems to judder as a sonorous burp erupts, filling the room and turning faces scarlet.

But for those who can’t stifle a burp before scurrying out of earshot, it’s worth knowing there’s something worse than letting that belching blend of bile, bread and bellow burst forth.

Retrograde cricopharyngeus dysfunction, as it is known, refers to “the cricopharyngeal muscle’s inability to relax to allow the retrograde passage of gas” and means the sufferer cannot burp.

Going by results of a survey carried out by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility, a Wiley journal, being unable to burp is not only worse than burping, it means you are more likely to do something even more embarrassing: fart.

After all, that stomach gas has to go somewhere, and what can’t go up must go down.

Nine out 10 of those who responded and who said they could not burp, ever, said in turn that they suffered abdominal bloating, “socially awkward gurgling noises” and excessive flatulence. More than half said they had trouble vomiting.

The Texan research team said the findings show how being unable to burp “encompasses more than just the physical challenge” and “also profoundly impacts people’s daily lives and mental well-being.”

The main treatment for the condition is an injection of botox into the affected muscle.

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