Stomach gurgling with diarrhea may indicate an underlying condition, such as an infection, a food intolerance or sensitivity, or an underlying bowel issue.

Stomach gurgling typically occurs due to the movement of fluids and gases through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is a normal by-product of digestion. However, loud or excessive gurgling sounds may indicate an underlying issue.

Diarrhea refers to loose, watery stools. It is typically a sign that the digestive system is not functioning as normal.

This article outlines the possible causes of stomach gurgling with diarrhea and offers advice on when to see a doctor. We also discuss some potential treatments and remedies, and answer some frequently asked questions about these symptoms.

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Stomach gurgling combined with diarrhea may signal an underlying infection or gastrointestinal (GI) issue, such as:

People should contact their doctor if symptoms of stomach gurgling and diarrhea are associated with any of the following:

  • Persistent or severe symptoms: People should seek medical attention if their symptoms are severe or persist for more than 4 days. This is especially true if the diarrhea is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as:
  • Dehydration: Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which can be particularly dangerous for children, older adults, and individuals with preexisting health conditions. A person should seek prompt medical care if they experience any of the following symptoms of dehydration:
  • Travel history or exposure to contaminated food or water: A person should consult a doctor if they have recently traveled to a region with a high risk of GI infections or if they suspect their symptoms are due to food poisoning or consumption of contaminated water. Medical treatment may be necessary.

The treatments and remedies for stomach gurgling and diarrhea depend on the underlying cause. Some potential treatment options are outlined below.

  • Replacing fluids and electrolytes: Diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. In order to stay hydrated and replace lost electrolytes, a person should drink plenty of fluids, such as:
    • water
    • clear broths
    • electrolyte-rich solutions
  • Following the BRAT diet: The acronym “BRAT” stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Following the BRAT diet or eating other bland foods can help soothe the digestive system and provide easily digestible foods during episodes of diarrhea.
  • Avoiding trigger foods: People should aim to identify foods that may worsen their symptoms. They can then try temporarily eliminating those foods from their diet. Some common trigger foods that can irritate the digestive system include:
  • Taking probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. They are available as supplements or in certain fermented foods. Probiotics might help improve digestion and reduce diarrhea, but people should consult a healthcare professional for guidance on the appropriate strains and dosages.
  • Taking antidiarrheal medications: Over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as loperamide (Imodium) can help reduce diarrhea symptoms by slowing down bowel movements. However, a person should consult a healthcare professional before taking these medications, as they are not suitable for use with certain bacterial or parasitic infections.
  • Taking Prescription medications: In cases where diarrhea is due to an infection or an underlying condition, a healthcare professional may prescribe specific medications to target the underlying cause.
  • Applying heat: Placing a hot water bottle or heating pad on the abdomen can help to alleviate abdominal discomfort and cramping.
  • Resting: People should get plenty of rest to allow their body to recover from an episode of diarrhea.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about stomach gurgling and diarrhea.

Why is my stomach gurgling and I can’t poop?

There are many reasons a person might experience stomach gurgling combined with an inability to poop.

The following conditions can cause changes in bowel habits, including stomach gurgling and constipation:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A chronic GI disorder that may also cause cramping, bloating, and gas.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): According to Crohn’s and Colitis UK, while diarrhea is a common symptom of UC and CD, some individuals also experience constipation.
  • Intestinal blockage: A blockage in the intestines can prevent the normal passage of stool, leading to constipation. Some factors that can cause blockages include:
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction (IPO): In IPO, a person experiences symptoms of an intestinal blockage in the absence of any obstruction. Instead, the bowel becomes dilated due to nerve or muscle damage that stops or delays the movement of food, fluids, and air through the intestines.
  • Stress and anxiety: Acute or chronic stress and anxiety can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, contributing to constipation.

Does bowel cancer cause stomach noises?

Medical professionals generally consider stomach gurgling and other digestive sounds a typical part of the digestive process. These sounds occur due to the movement of gas and fluids within the GI tract and are not specific to bowel cancer.

However, bowel cancer can cause changes in bowel habits. In some cases, it may lead to bowel obstruction, which can result in increased abdominal sounds.

Stomach gurgling and diarrhea are symptoms that often occur together. The cause may be a transient issue, such as an infection, food intolerance or sensitivity, or a period of stress or anxiety. Less commonly, these symptoms may indicate a more chronic gastrointestinal (GI) issue, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

The treatment for stomach gurgling and diarrhea depends on the underlying cause. Treatment may involve simple measures, such as eating a bland diet, avoiding trigger foods, or getting plenty of rest. In other cases, OTC or prescription medications may be necessary to treat an underlying health issue.

A person should contact their doctor if their symptoms become severe or persistent, or if they develop dehydration. People should also contact a doctor if they suspect they may have an underlying infection or more chronic health issue that requires medical treatment.