As a digestive organ, the stomach can make a variety of different sounds. After all, there are a lot of substances being digested through our stomachs on a daily basis. Stomach gurgling and rumbling sounds are typically caused by gas flowing through our intestines. Doctors call these types of sounds borborygmi—and more often than not, the cause is benign.
According to the Pittsburgh School of Nursing, the glands in the stomach will go into action every few hours, regardless of whether or not you’re consuming food. Anything from smelling food, seeing images of food, or even just thinking of food can release gastric juices.
One in five individuals will experience a “gurgling” stomach at least once in their lifetime.
What Causes Stomach Gurgling?
Stomach gurgling can be attributed to various causes—but it generally means that your digestive track is doing its job! Here are some of the causes of gurgling stomach:
1. Digesting food
When consuming food, the movement of the food and fluids through the gut can be a vigorous process. Strong muscle contractions are constantly churning the food and attempting to push it through the gut. Though the gurgling sounds are normal after consuming a meal, there can be times where certain foods and drinks contribute to louder and excessive noises. One major contributor is carbonated beverages. These beverages can increase gas in the body and contribute to loud gurgling sounds in stomach. Eating too fast or swallowing air while consuming food can also increase gas in the bowels.
2. Over-activity in the gut
Increased bowel activity can lead to louder stomach gurgling sounds in the stomach and bowel. This is usually due to gastroenteritis (irritated or inflamed intestines) and food poisoning—two conditions where the bowels are irritated. Alcohol or even different types of medication can upset the gut. Gut over-activity is not always caused by consuming substances; disease, anxiety, and psychological stress have also been known to alter bowel activity.
When you hear a rumbling or growling sound in the gut, it may be your body’s way of reminding you that you need to eat. When you’re hungry, the stomach is put into action; it begins to churn and then signals the brain that it’s time to eat. If you consume alcohol or caffeine on an empty stomach, the gurgling noise can increase.
4. Lack of sleep
Sleep deprivation and stress can cause some people to overeat, which can trigger excess stomach sounds.
A nervous sensation can trigger a significant increase of stomach acid and gurgling. This feeling can also mean that you are ready for a task at hand and are aware of the importance of it.
6. Food intolerance
Dairy and gluten are common triggers for food intolerance. As the body attempts to digest these foods, cramps and gas can result. In order to avoid this, find out what food irritates your stomach and avoid it.
Remedies for Stomach Gurgling
- Drinking water: Consuming water should naturally prevent stomach gurgling. Keep in mind that tap water can include chlorine or fluoride, which can help contribute to gurgling stomach in some people. The best thing to do is to filter or boil tap water before consuming it.
- Healthy diet: A diet high in fiber will help reduce the gurgling symptoms. Instead of eating large meals, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day—this will keep your stomach satisfied and give it time to digest the food.
- Get a good night’s sleep: A healthy gut—and body— requires between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. Losing sleep might contribute to overeating and lead to gurgling stomach, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Physical activity: Physical activity (playing sports, aerobics, working out at the gym, etc.) is essential to reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and stomach gurgling.
- Stress management: Managing stress should help the symptoms pass quicker. Try relaxation methods, prayer, meditation, or listening to soothing music.
- Herbal tea: Peppermint and chamomile tea provide a soothing sensation for the stomach and can also speed up the digestive process.
- Do not drink or smoke: The chemicals in both cigarettes and alcohol will irritate the stomach. Alcohol contains acid, and cigarettes reduce the production of protective stomach mucus. Both can contribute to severe stomach pain and contribute to gurgling symptoms.
- Maintain good hygiene: We are constantly at risk of dangerous bacteria entering our systems; this could contribute to contracting a virus, bug, or stomach flu (and as a result, gurgling stomach). Make sure to maintain proper hygiene, including frequent hand-washing.
There are times when gurgling noises are the result of a more serious condition. If the gurgling sound becomes consistent, occurs on a daily basis, and is accompanied by discomfort, abnormal stools, or severe pain, consult your doctor to find out what the underlying cause may be.
Sources for Today’s article:
“Stomach gurgling,” Doctor Tipster web site, July 28, 2013; http://www.doctortipster.com/17199-stomach-gurgling.html.
“Gurgling stomach, New Health Guide web site; http://www.newhealthguide.org/Gurgling-Stomach.html, last accessed July 22, 2015.
Chandler, B., “Why Is My Stomach Gurgling?” Livestrong.com, January 28, 2015; http://www.livestrong.com/article/326182-why-is-my-stomach-gurgling/.
“Some Reasons for Gurgling Stomach and Bowel Sounds,” HealthHype.com; http://www.healthhype.com/some-reasons-for-gurgling-stomach-and-bowel-sounds.html, last accessed July 22, 2015.