Stomach growling, or borborygmi, can result from hunger, slow or incomplete digestion, or the consumption of certain foods.

These growling and rumbling noises do not always emanate from the stomach, however, as they can also come from the small intestine further along the digestive tract.

This article looks at the causes of borborygmi and lists ways to stop stomach growling.

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There are reasons why stomach growling occurs:

To help digestion

When food reaches the small intestine, the body releases enzymes to help break down the foods and facilitate nutrient absorption. Peristalsis is a series of wave-like muscular contractions that take place to move the food along the digestive tract.

These activities, which involve the movement of gas and partially digested foods, contribute to the sounds of borborygmi.

Learn more about the anatomy of digestion here.

To signal hunger

Even if no food has been consumed in the previous hours, the body will regularly undertake the process of peristalsis. The stomach and intestines will also release acid and enzymes to prepare for the ingestion of food.

These muscular movements, coupled with an emptier digestive tract, can cause loud noises to emanate.

To indicate underlying issues

Sometimes, stomach growling can indicate an underlying medical issue, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

Issues that can cause stomach growling include:

While stomach growling is a part of normal digestion, there are times when rumbling noises can be a source of embarrassment. The following may help to reduce symptoms.

Drink water

Drinking a glass of water can be an effective solution to stomach growling, particularly if it is not possible to eat something at the time. Water aids the digestive process while also filling the stomach.

Both of these actions help to prevent stomach growling or muffling the sound of it, at least.

Eat something

Once the stomach has been empty for a while, growling noises may signal that it is time to eat again. Eating a small meal or snack may temporarily quell the sounds. Having food in the stomach also lowers the volume of stomach growling.

Chew thoroughly

Digestion begins in the mouth through the physical act of chewing food. Stomach growling that is linked to indigestion may be prevented by more thoroughly chewing food and eating more slowly.

Chewing food properly also reduces the amount of air that is swallowed, which prevents gas and digestive distress. Eating slowly can also reduce the amount of air swallowed.

Limit sugar, alcohol, and acidic foods

Alcohol, sugary foods, and acidic foods can all trigger stomach sounds. Sugars, such as fructose and sorbitol, are especially problematic. Acidic foods, including citrus fruits and coffee, are also known to cause stomach growling.

Alcohol irritates the digestive tract and can cause stomach noises. It also increases acid production and causes inflammation in the stomach lining. High doses of alcohol can delay gastric emptying and cause stomach pain.

Avoid food and drink that cause gas

Certain foods and drinks produce more gas than others. If stomach growling is caused by large amounts of gas moving through the digestive tract, then avoiding these foods and drinks may solve the problem of borborygmi.

Gas-producing food and drink include:

It may be beneficial to remove one food or drink at a time to pinpoint the source of the excess gas and intestinal noises.

Discover food intolerances

Intolerance to certain foods can increase gas and stomach growling.

For example, lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that helps to digest lactose. Approximately 65% all people have difficulty digesting lactose, although the prevalence varies widely among ethnic and racial populations.

The best way to manage a food intolerance is to avoid the foods that cause symptoms. People with chronic stomach growling should discuss the possibility of a food intolerance with their doctor.

Practice portion control

Stomach growling and other noises may become more noticeable after eating big meals, particularly meals rich in fats, sugars, red meats, and other foods that may be hard to digest.

Eating smaller meals can help to reduce gas buildup in the digestive system, which can reduce noise during digestion.

Stay active

Going for a walk after meals has been proven to aid the digestive process by speeding up the rate at which the stomach empties. This faster emptying can reduce stomach rumbling.

Reduce stress

Stomach growling and other digestive problems can be more apparent during certain stressful situations, such as job interviews, presentations, and tests. This is because gut activity increases during periods of anxiety, regardless of whether the stomach is full or empty.

Address gastrointestinal issues

More serious underlying disease processes, such as infection or intestinal blockage, are possible causes of borborygmi. Hence, if stomach rumbling is bothersome and associated with other signs or symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

IBS can also frequently be at the root of stomach growling, and addressing this underlying condition may be the only way to reduce these sounds.

Below are some commonly asked questions about stomach growling.

Why is my stomach growling so much?

A person’s stomach may growl for various reasons, including:

  • the body is digesting food
  • the body is signaling hunger
  • it could indicate an underlying issue, such as a food allergy or intestinal blockage

Can others hear a person’s stomach growl?

Yes, it is possible for others to hear a person’s stomach growl. This is a normal part of digestion but there are times when loud rumbling noises can be a source of embarrassment.

Why is my stomach growling so much but I’m not hungry?

Stomach growling does not always indicate hunger. Sometimes, it can point to:

  • food allergies
  • food intolerances
  • gastrointestinal infections
  • intestinal blockage
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

What do loud bowel sounds indicate?

Most bowel sounds are harmless and simply signal hunger or digestion taking place.

However, some bowel sounds can indicate a problem.

For example, high-pitched bowel sounds heard with a stethoscope can indicate a bowel obstruction. Alternatively, an absence of bowel sounds after surgery can indicate an ileus (lack of propulsive movement) which can lead to pain, nausea, or vomiting.

Though normal, stomach growling can be tempered by taking certain steps that include eating regularly, avoiding problematic foods, and managing anxiety.

It is important to see a doctor if stomach growling is a regular occurrence, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, as this can be a sign of a gastrointestinal infection or a more serious condition.

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