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Burping a lot? 5 signs your body may be telling you something

Things like excessive belching or the feeling of sand in your eye may be your body's way to telling you something's amiss.
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/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Whether it feels like there's sand in your eye or you're bothered by excessive burping, it may be worthwhile to listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

Dr. Roshini Raj, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, shared a few symptoms that you might want to pay attention to:

Canker sores

Most people get these tiny mouth sores from time to time, and they can make eating and drinking uncomfortable. It's usually caused by minor injury to your mouth, such as if you bite the inside of your lip. Or it could be a food sensitivity to citrus fruits or a viral infection. If a mouth sore does not heal after three weeks, however, it could be a sign of a potentially more serious problem, Raj said, such as oral cancer. If you don't have any pain, it could be more serious.

'Sand' in your eye

Sometimes a foreign object scratches or damages the surface of the cornea, the clear, protective covering over your eye. Symptoms can include a feeling that sand or dirt is stuck in the eye, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, red or bloodshot eyes, and increased tears. If that sensation doesn't go away, it could be a corneal abrasion. If you're experiencing these symptoms, Raj recommended that you see an eye doctor. It's usually treated with antibiotic drops. "You never want to play around with your eyes," she says.

Frequent burping

Burping — a releasing of swallowed air from the stomach through the mouth — really needs no explanation. But what causes excessive belching? It could be a sign of acid reflux or stomach ulcers, Raj said. According to the Mayo Clinic, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can sometimes cause excessive belching by promoting increased swallowing. It's important to know because chronic acid exposure in your esophagus can cause pre-cancerous changes.

Swollen or painful leg

Pain in the leg — accompanied by swelling, cramping in the calf muscle, warmth over the affected area or changes in skin color — could be a sign of a blood clot. These are more common after long flights or if you smoke, take oral contraceptives or if you have cancer. A blood clot is serious; if it breaks off and goes to your lungs, it can be fatal, Raj said.

Lump under the arm

A lump under the arm could be a minor problem, such as an ingrown hair or enlarged lymph nodes due to a virus, or it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as breast cancer. Get it checked out if the lump persists for more than a few weeks, Raj says.

Remember, always consult a physician if you have persistent symptoms or before starting any treatment. "When in doubt, check it out," Raj said.

This updated story was first published in 2014.