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Rumbling Stomach

Rumbling Stomach

Rumbling, grumbling, growling or gurgling sounds in the stomach are usually produced by the movement of gas and contraction of the intestinal muscles. Frequent stomach rumbling can be a sign of certain health conditions, especially if it is accompanied by abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: May 30, 2018
Did You Know?
When our stomach makes noises, we usually refer to it as rumbling. But technically, this is known as 'borborygmi', which comes from the Greek word 'borborygmós'. This is an onomatopoeia -- a word that is created to imitate a sound -- and borborygmi represents how a grumbling stomach will sound, when put in the word form.

Stomach rumbling refers to the growling sound that is usually produced by the stomach. Such a sound is usually produced by the peristaltic movement of the bowel, or movement of gas within the digestive tract. Generally, the muscles of the bowel and small intestine contract in a wave-like manner, in order to move food and digestive juice through the gastrointestinal tract. Such muscle contraction in the stomach can cause the rumbling sound, especially when the stomach is empty. This is the reason why this kind of rumbling sound inside the stomach is often regarded as an indicator that the person is hungry.

What Makes Your Stomach Go 'Borborygmi'

› Intestinal Gas

This type of gas is produced by the bacteria residing in the stomach region. This happens in case of incomplete digestion of food, which can give the intestinal bacteria an opportunity to participate in the digestion and produce gas in the process. Therefore, rumbling of the stomach is mainly caused by the contractions of muscles of the intestinal tract, as well as movement of gas within the digestive system.

› Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is one of the most common factors that can lead to an increase in intestinal gas. This condition is characterized by the inability to digest the lactose found in milk and milk products. When lactose remains undigested in the body, the intestinal bacteria ferment it and produce gas as a byproduct. This results in stomach rumbling, and this condition can also be accompanied by some other symptoms like flatulence and abdominal discomfort.

› Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

It can be termed as a functional disorder of the bowel, which can cause recurrent abdominal cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. This condition also results in excessive cramping of the gut, and disordered bowel function.

› Aerophagia, a.k.a. Aerophagy

This condition refers to the act of swallowing too much air while eating or drinking. The swallowed air reaches the stomach, which in turn causes abdominal bloating, belching, flatulence and stomach rumbling. People having the habit of eating too fast, or those under stress and anxiety can swallow a large amount of air while eating, which can manifest in the form of rumbling noises.

› Functional Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia or indigestion is one of the common conditions that is usually accompanied by a rumbling sound, pain and discomfort in the upper abdominal region, bloating, and a sensation of feeling full after eating a small meal. Sometimes, consuming oily or spicy food can trigger the symptoms of dyspepsia.

Foods that Produce Gas

The food and drinks that are more commonly found to produce intestinal gas are milk and dairy products, carbonated beverages, wheat, legumes, beans, and certain vegetables like cabbage, etc.
It has been observed that certain foods have a tendency to produce gas in the intestine. Usually, foods that contain more carbohydrates and fiber may not get completely digested, and as a result, the intestinal bacteria get a chance to act upon these foods and produce intestinal gas. Consumption of such foods can sometimes cause stomach rumbling, flatulence and bloating, although, many a time, this can be just a part of digestion.

If the above-mentioned symptoms are accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping, belching, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, then some underlying disease or condition can be responsible and associated with it. In such a case, it is better to take the help of your physician in order to find out the underlying cause and get the required treatment.

In the meantime, some changes in your eating habits, like eating small but frequent meals, drinking plenty of water, and identifying and limiting the consumption of food and drinks that produce intestinal gas can help manage this condition. Also, try to reduce the level of stress and anxiety, as this too can trigger the growling effect in your tummy.


This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be substituted for the advice of a medical professional.