In common parlance, we may use the terms 'noisy stomach' or 'rumbling stomach' for referring to growling or rumbling sounds. Medically referred to as 'borborygmus', gurgling noises that appear to be coming from the stomach are usually caused when gas moves in the stomach or intestines. These gurgling noises arise as a part of the digestive process. More often than not, loud growling noises are heard when our stomach is empty. Though a rumbling stomach is usually not a cause of serious concern, loud growling noises may be produced frequently if there is excessive buildup of gas. Excessive buildup of gas could be a symptom of certain stomach disorders.
It is normal for the stomach as well as intestine to produce growling sounds. We may hear such sounds only when they are loud enough. Let me explain the circumstances under which these sounds may be heard.
Digestive Process: Digestion is a complex process that involves breaking down food into a simpler form. Once we ingest food, it travels through the food pipe and moves into the stomach. The process which the body employs to move the food along the gastrointestinal tract is referred to as peristalsis. Wave-like muscle contractions of the digestive tract help in pushing the ingested food from the food pipe to the stomach. Digestive juices work on the ingested food and wave-like muscle contractions help in churning the food and digestive juices into a partially digested semi-liquid mixture called chyme. Besides chyme, air or gases may also find a way into the stomach. Sometimes, people end up swallowing a lot of air while eating or drinking. Rumbling noises may be heard when gas moves as the wave-like muscle contractions churn the food.
Hunger: Growling noises may also be heard when the stomach is empty. A couple of hours after the stomach has been emptied, certain hormones cause the nerves to send signals to the brain. The brain responds by stimulating wave-like contractions to propel the remaining food. When the stomach is empty, process of peristalsis will make one feel hungry. Moreover, muscle contractions are most likely to cause growling sounds.
Intestinal Gas: Consumption of certain food items can also lead to excessive buildup of gas in the intestine. When gas moves within the gastrointestinal tract, it would cause a rumbling stomach. Excessive consumption of foods that are hard to digest is most likely to cause gas. Excessive consumption of legumes, beans, peas, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, dairy products, food items sweetened with artificial sweeteners and fatty food is most likely to cause gas. Those who are lactose-intolerant are unable to digest lactose, which is a sugar found in milk. When such people consume dairy products, the bacteria present in the intestine act on the undigested lactose thereby producing excessive gas. Those who have a habit of talking while eating might end up swallowing a lot of air. Excessive consumption of carbonated beverages might also lead to a gassy stomach which in turn may produce growling noises.
Gastrointestinal Disorders: Those suffering from gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome could also suffer from this embarrassing condition. This is a disorder that affects the intestinal motility and can cause sudden muscle contractions. The patient's condition may worsen on eating certain food items. Stress may also act as a trigger. Abdominal pain, cramps, flatulence, bloating, constipation or diarrhea are some of the common symptoms of this disorder. Overeating, poor dietary habits or anything that hampers the process of digestion could cause a growling stomach.
Treatment and Preventive Measures
As mentioned earlier, loud rumbling sounds are usually heard when one's stomach is empty. Under such circumstances, all you need to do is have a proper meal to satiate your hunger. However, one must seek medical help if these loud gurgling noises are accompanied by other symptoms such as discomfort, acidity, indigestion, cramps or bloating.
You must pay attention to your diet. Do not consume foods that are not easily digestible. Quit smoking and cut down on your intake of alcohol. Certain food items such as corn, milk, dairy products, cabbage, onion, potatoes, wheat, apples, bananas, etc. are known to cause excessive production of gas. Cut down on your intake of these food items. Irregular meals can also lead to the formation of gas. Improve your dietary habits. It would be best to have 2-3 light meals instead of having very heavy meals.
Cutting down on your intake of carbonated drinks will also prevent stomach gurgling. Never eat hastily, make sure that you chew food slowly. Stress can also have a negative impact on the digestive process, so stay relaxed and make some lifestyle-related changes to improve your digestive health.
If your stomach makes very loud noises every now and then, you should make some dietary modifications. Follow a healthy diet and stay physically active. This will certainly help in controlling the loud rumbling noises from the stomach. If you have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder, do follow the advice given by your doctor.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.