Why Does Your Stomach Growl?

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Stomach growling, or borborygmi, is commonly observed by all of us. It is linked to hunger, slow or incomplete digestion, or the usage of particular foods. These growling sounds do not always emanate from the stomach, as they can also come from the small intestine with the digestive tract.

Borborygmi is the sound that originates from your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. While it is often simply known as “stomach growling,” these sounds originate from either the stomach or the small or large intestine. It occurs at any time. While it is particularly most observable when you are hungry, it happens at any time because of gas or food moving via your digestive system.

Here in this article, we will tell you about the stomach growling, whether it is good or bad for your body. Don’t skip any detail and read till the end for better understanding.

What Is Stomach Growling?

Growling from the digestive system (called borborygmi) does not only come from the stomach – just as often, you can hear it coming from the small intestine. Its origin includes the activity of the smooth muscle in the walls of the stomach and the small intestine.

When your muscle walls are activated in a series of contractions, called peristalsis, this processes forces food, gas, air, and liquids via the digestive tract. This is the reason a rumbling or growling noise is heard in your stomach area.  Such bowel noises are most often a regular occurrence and are not usually any cause for concern.

Stomach Growling and Ancient Greek View

These stomach sounds have been of interest for many years, so much so,  ancient Greeks named these sounds borborygmi (the plural of borborygmus). This term’s etymology depends on onomatopoeia; it is a trial to put the growling sounds into words. Borborygmi translates as “rumbling or growling.”

The physiological history of this grumbling includes muscular activity in your stomach and small intestine. Usually, your gastrointestinal tract is a hollow tube that may run from mouth to anus, and its walls are mainly made of layers of smooth muscle.

When your walls are activated and lead the tract’s content to join and force food, gas, or liquids via your stomach or small intestine, it produces a growling noise. This muscular walls squeezing is known as peristalsis and includes a ring of contraction moving aborally towards the anus a few inches at a time.

Why Does Your Stomach Growl?

Stomach growling is a normal part of your body’s digestion, and it occurs as your stomach processes food, fluids, air, and mucous. It can be very annoying at times, but it does serve a function to help you digest food. It is common to hear and experience your stomach rumbling when it is empty; this is because your gut is still working and does not have food in it to muffle the sound.

There are some important reasons why stomach growling happens, some of which are explained below:

To Help Digestion

When food comes in contact with the small intestine, your body excretes enzymes, helping break down the foods and aid nutrient absorption. Peristalsis is a process of wave-like muscular contraction that happens to move the food along your digestive tract.

These functions that include the movement of gas and partially-digested foods add to borborygmi’s rumbling sounds.

To Signal Hunger

Even if you did not consume anything in the previous hours, your body would continuously undertake the process of peristalsis. The stomach and small intestine may also release acid and enzymes, preparing for the ingestion of food.

The sounds may remain for up to 15 minutes and may happen again every hour until the food is digested.

To Indicate Underlying Issues

Sometimes, stomach rumbling can be associated with an underlying medical issue, mainly if accompanied by other signs like pain, restlessness, constipation, irritation, or diarrhea.

Some stomach problems may result in stomach growling. These problems that can lead to stomach rumbling involve;

  • Food allergies
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Food intolerances
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Gastrointestinal infections

Is It Good to Hear Your Stomach Growl?

In most cases, it is normal for your stomach to growl. But if you notice this is happening more than usual, it could be your body signalling that something isn’t quite right. For example, the signs of irritable bowel syndrome are changes in your stomach’s rumbling and gurgling.

Although stomach rumbling or growling is usually heard or linked with hunger and an absence of food in the stomach, it occurs at any time, on an empty stomach, or even if the stomach is full. Moreover, growling or rumbling does not only come from the stomach but also originated from the small intestine. Growling is generally linked to hunger as it is usually louder when your stomach and intestine are empty, and thus the organs’ content does not muffle these noises.

The production of these peristalsis waves is due to a rhythmic fluctuation of electrical potential in the smooth muscle cells that all other cases being adequate will cause your muscles to contract. This fluctuation is called the basic electrical rhythm (BER) and is an outcome of the enteric nervous system’s inherent activity that is found in the walls of the gut.

The BER may cause the stomach and small intestine’s muscle cells to activate at a regular rhythm like, but lower than, the rhythmicity of cardiac muscle in your heart. The autonomic nervous system or hormonal factor may alter this BER.

The MMCs travel through the stomach and the small intestine cause hunger contractions. Such hunger contractions begin in the antrum, or lower region, of your stomach and spread along the whole length of your gut, sweeping to the terminal ileum. They remove all stomach content such as mucus, remaining foodstuffs, and bacteria and keep them from gathering at any one region.

The contractions also create vibrations, and the growling sounds linked to hunger. Hunger contractions continue for almost 15 minutes once started and then repeat every two to three hours until you ingest the next food. These are not similar to hunger pangs that begin 12-24 hours after the last meal and may continue for a few days before gradually subsiding.

Low blood sugar maximises this activity that can also be induced utilising an intravenous infusion of the hormone motilin.

How You Can Stop Stomach Growling

Stomach rumbling is a natural function, and it is customary to occasionally hear your stomach and intestines doing what they are functioned to do. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of audible growling, which includes different ways to minimise the rumbling noise.  Some of them are given below;

Drink water

If you haven’t eaten for a while, your stomach is still rumbling away; then at that moment, drinking water helps prevent it. The water does two main things: It improves digestion and simultaneously fills the stomach-soothing some of the hunger reactions.

You need to note one thing; you should be taking water regularly every day.  Suppose you regularly drink water throughout the day. In that case, you may hear a gurgling sound instead of a growling sound coming from your stomach. 

Eat Slowly

In case your stomach growls at 8 a.m. every day, you should ensure to eat slowly during your breakfast. It helps you digest food better that prevents stomach grumbling.

Eat More Regularly

It is one of the most effective solutions for severe stomach growling. If your body begins signalling that it is time to eat before you are going for a meal, you may require eating more often.

Plenty of individuals get advantages from eating three to five small meals per day rather than two large ones. It may improve digestion and metabolism. It may stop grumbling during digestion and prevents you from being hungry.

Chew Slowly

While eating, you should chew your food slowly and completely. By thoroughly chewing every bite, you are providing the stomach much less work to do later on. It makes digestion much more comfortable. By doing this, you are also less likely to swallow air, stopping indigestion and gases.

Digestion starts at the mouth, with your saliva beginning to break down molecules while you’re still chewing. So if you scoff your food, you’re more likely to get rumbling in your stomach.

Limit Gas-Triggering Foods

Particular foods are more likely to lead to gas or indigestion. Getting rid of these foods reduces stomach growling that is because of gas moving through your intestines. Typical foods that cause gas are;

  • Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Minimise Acidic Foods

Although I do not recommend not eating these foods, as these particular foods are fantastic for your gut health.  But if grumbling and rumbling sounds are bothering you, you could replace some of these foods with other healthy choices.

Foods and beverages with high acidity contribute to the grumbling noise, thus minimising them in your daily meal list can stop it. It involves foods such as citrus fruits, tomato, and some soda drinks.

It also involves coffee. Minimising or removing your morning coffee helps to minimise stomach growling that happens a few hours later. Rather than coffee, you can try caffeinated tea.

Avoid Overeating

Overeating makes it more challenging for your digestive system to do its work; that is the reason we may see plenty of that digestion sounds following large holiday meals.

By considering smaller portions daily and eating slowly (that permits your system to register that it is full), you can readily prevent overeating.

Walk after You Eat

Walking after eating food may help improve digestion, moving food via your stomach, and intestine effectively. Research has highlighted that walking instantly after a meal, a relatively short walk of half a mile, effectively maximise gastric emptying.

Remember that it does not use for intense or heavy workouts that are a little too much instantly following a meal.

Try to Rid Anxiety or Depression Triggers

Do you how your stomach feels like it is in knots when you are depressed? Depression or high levels of short-term anxiety slow gastric emptying. This is primarily due to increased adrenalin and fight and flight response. This response diverts blood away from digesting food and sends it to your muscles to react if need be. This reduces the digestion time and increases your rumbling and growling sounds in your gut.

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Suppose you are observing a high level of anxiety. In that case, deep breathing is perfect for calming the central nervous system and reducing physical drawbacks.

Minimise Excess Sugar in Your Diet

Excessive quantities of sugar, especially fructose or sorbitol, can cause diarrhea or flatus, so maximising intestinal noise. That is why; you should avoid or limit the use of sugar excessively in your diet. In this way, you can get rid of stomach growling.

Limit alcohol

Alcohol can cause stomach sounds. It may irritate your digestive tract and can lead to stomach noise. It also maximises acid formation and leads to swelling or inflammation in the stomach lining. An excess dose of alcohol delays gastric emptying and causes stomach distress or pain.

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Discover Food Intolerances

Intolerance to particular foods increases gas and stomach sounds. For instance, lactose intolerance is due to lactase’s insufficiency, the enzyme that may help to digest lactose. About 60% of all individuals have difficulty digesting lactose, though the prevalence may vary extensively among ethnic or racial populations.

The ideal technique to control food intolerance is to limit or get rid of the foods that cause it. Individuals suffering from severe stomach growling must talk about the possibility of food intolerance with their doctors or health care providers.

Stay Active

If you want to avoid stomach growling, then you should stay active. Going for a walk or doing simple exercises after having your meals may help your digestive process by maximising the rate at which the stomach empties. It may faster stomach rumbling.

A post-meal walk helps the digestion in other ways. Different studies highlight that a 15-minute walk 20 minutes after having your meal can lower the blood sugar level in individuals with type-2 diabetes. But, it will be best if you avoid high-intensity activities instantly after eating.

Stay calm

Stomach growling is visible during particular situations, like a job interview, presentation, and test. The reason is that gut activity may increase during periods of anxiety, irrespective of whether your stomach is full or empty.

Being anxious or depressed may lead to slow digestion and contribute to indigestion signs, involving irritation, heartburn, and stomach growls.

You can minimise stress or depression through mediation, deep breathing exercises, practising mindfulness and utilising progressive muscle relaxation methods.

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Solve gastrointestinal Problems

Severe underlying disease processes like infection or intestinal blockage are triggering causes of borborygmi. Thus, if stomach growling is problematic and linked to other symptoms, it is critical to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also one of the root causes of stomach growling, and solving its underlying condition may be an excellent technique of minimising these sounds.

Have Something When You Feel the Hunger Pangs

The simplest way to avoid stomach growling is to eat something when you feel the pangs of hunger. Thus, when you know you have a hunger pinch, then you should eat something immediately. Note that you should eat something light like crackers or small granola bars. Avoid having greasy foods like pizza or cheesy burger. They can also cause gas or indigestion.

Absence of Bowel Sounds

When these usual stomach sounds in the digestive tract are absent, it is known as the “absence of bowel sounds.” Suppose your stomach and small intestine are not creating any sound. In that case, it means that they are not functioning correctly and that there is an issue in your digestive tract.

If your doctor listens to your stomach with a stethoscope and does not observe any sound or does not hear what they want to hear, they could go for tests to know whether there is something wrong. It is notably the situation if you have other signs like stomach restlessness, irritation, or bleeding from the rectum.

Lifestyle Risk Factors

It is significant to note that having “bowel sounds” means that your digestive system works correctly. If these noises are troubling or embarrassing, it will be useful to change your diet to eliminate foods that cause gas or carbonated drinks.

While foods such as beans and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts, etc.) are highly beneficial for your health, consuming high amounts can trigger stomach growling or gas, thus minimising the use of these vegetables could help.

Besides, minimising your consumption of certain sugars like fructose and sorbitol (present in fruits and utilised as an artificial sweetener) and foods (like citrus fruit, tomato, or coffee) help decrease borborygmi.

As I mentioned above, drinking plenty of water, eating slowly or regularly and limiting overeating can also decrease borborygmi.

Diagnosis-Tests for Stomach Growling

If unusual stomach growling occurs with other signs, your doctor will perform a particular test to diagnose the hidden cause. Your doctor or medical health provider may start by reviewing your medical history and asking specific questions about your symptoms’ frequency or severity. They will also utilise a stethoscope to listen for any bowel sounds. This step is known as auscultation. Bowel obstructions generally form many loud, intense, and high-pitched sounds. These noises can often be heard without utilising a stethoscope.

Your doctor may also do specific tests:

  • A CT scan is utilised to take X-ray images of the stomach area.
  • An endoscopy is a test that utilises a camera linked to a small, flexible tube capturing images within the stomach or small intestine.
  • Blood tests may be performed to check disease, infection, swelling or inflammation, or organ damage.

Treating Stomach Growling

Treatment will depend on the cause of your symptoms. Familiar sounds do not need any treatment. You may want to minimise your consumption of foods that may cause gas. These include:

  • Certain Fruits
  • Beans
  • Excessive sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Carbonated or soda beverages
  • Grain products
  • Particular vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli
  • Don’t use dairy if you are unable to tolerate lactose
  • If you swallow air by eating too instantly, drinking via a straw or chewing gum can also cause excess air in your digestive system.
  • Probiotics may be beneficial for rumbling bowel sounds, but only in those people who also stomach issues.

It is significant to note that you can only hear plenty of these noises. The other individuals are unaware of these sounds.

Growling Sounds and Medical Emergencies

If you have symptoms of medical emergencies, like bleeding, bowel damages, or intense obstruction, then you should need urgent treatment and admit to the hospital for a solution. Your doctor will place a tube through the mouth or nose and into the stomach or small intestine to empty them at the hospital. You will generally not be capable of eating or drinking anything afterwards to permit your intestine to rest.

For specific individuals, getting fluids through a vein and permitting the intestinal system to rest will help treat the issue.

For other individuals, doctors may go for surgery. For instance, if you are suffering from severe infection or injury to your intestine or if the intestine is entirely blocked, you may require surgery.

Drugs and medicines are available for particular gastrointestinal infections such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If your doctor may observe one of these medical conditions, he will prescribe medication for curing this problem.

Outlook for Stomach Growling or Sounds

The outlook for stomach growling relies on the severity of the issue. Sometimes, irritating sounds in your digestive system are optimal and should not be triggering for the matter. If your stomach noises feel irritating, seem unusual, or they are accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical care right away to minimise the risk of complications.

In particular situations, some complications can be life-threatening if you ignore them or leave them untreated. Mainly, Intestinal obstructions can be harmful or life-threatening. The block can cause tissue death if it stops the supply of blood to part of your intestine. Any cut in the lining of your stomach or intestinal wall leads to infection in the abdominal cavity. This can be deadly.

Other medical problems and diseases such as tumours or Crohn’s disease may need long-term treatment and monitoring.

Overview

Growling sounds from the stomach come from the stomach and come from the small intestine. Its origin involves the activity of the smooth muscle in your stomach and intestines. When your muscle walls are activated in a series of contractions (called peristalsis) to join and force food, gas, air, and liquids via the digestive tract, it produces a growling noise. Such bowel noises are most often a regular occurrence and are not usually any cause for concern.

Usually, stomach growling can be treated by taking particular that involves regularly eating, avoiding consuming acidic foods, and managing stress.

It is critical to see a doctor if stomach growling is a regular occurrence, particularly if accompanied by other issues. This can be a symptom of a gastrointestinal infection or more severe conditions.

Hopefully, this guide will help you to know everything about stomach growling or rumbling. If you have any issues, you can ask me, and I will do everything to resolve your issue.

Emilie MASI

Registered Nurse, Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice Graduate Diploma of Wound Care Working towards Masters of Wound Care

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Why does your stomach rumble? It can be very annoying when your stomach makes weird sounds, especially in an interview or of times of stress. Find out why your stomach growls, and what you can do to reduce the noise!  #stomachgrowl #stomachrumble #health #healthfacts #nursemummy