You may have heard your stomach make some sounds, which is very common during the process of digestion. Many people experience it and very few stop to notice these noises, which are typically made by gurgling intestines. You may wonder what causes your stomach to growl and make such sounds? It is simple, these noises are produced during movement of fluids or gases in the intestines and mostly are a normal part of digestion and bowel movements.
Gurgling intestines or growling stomach is referred to the bowel movements, which are noisy giving a feeling that they are making rumbling noises. These noises are called borborygmi, which are an indication of normal movement of fluid and gas through the bowels with the help of muscle contraction.
Gurgling Intestines: What Causes Your Stomach to Growl?
When food enters the stomach, the process of digestion continues. Digestive juices get mixed with the food and it keeps moving forward in the intestines, where further digestion and absorption takes place. Stomach and bowels make muscular contractions, called peristalsis, to enable food to move forward. It is similar to a wave produced inside the bowels, which carries food to the next location.
Gurgling intestines are a result of muscular contraction, which occurs when the digested food is propelled forwards through the bowels. Some common causes of gurgling intestines include or causes of your stomach to growl are:
- Hunger – When previously eaten food is digested approximately after two hours, there is time for the next intake. This is when loud grumbling may be heard, which indicates that you are hungry and need to fill the stomach with food.
- Improper digestion – Intake of certain foods, certain eating patterns or other changes in food and bowel habits can cause indigestion. This can cause excessive gas formation, which can create more noises, heard as growls. If the gastric flora of good bacteria is not well maintained, digestion problems occur usually accompanied with growling noises and bowel changes. Sometimes, air is swallowed due to talking, drinking and eating, which can cause gurgling in intestines or can cause stomach to growl.
- Allergies and Intolerance – Some people are sensitive to milk, dairy products, beans, some vegetables, whole grains or gluten products like wheat, which can cause excess gases and growling noises in the stomach. In this case, the symptoms of gurgling intestines are often experienced on consumption of the product causing problem.
- Use of laxatives – Use of laxatives, usually taken to clear the bowels, can cause excessive bowel movements and growling in stomach. Consumption of high fiber foods like whole grains, oats, etc. can also act as laxatives and cause gurgling sounds from intestine or can cause your stomach to growl.
- Gastric disturbances – Gurgling intestines or growling stomach can be a result of gastric disorders that affect the process of digestion, in cases of stomach upset causing diarrhea or painful passing of motions and infection causing inflamed inner lining or stomach and intestines.
Other conditions that affect digestion or absorption of certain substances, sugars or proteins from food, like celiac disease too cause gurgling intestine.
Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers, intestinal problems, sometimes gastric cancers and other gastrointestinal conditions too can sometimes cause gurgling intestines and need to be evaluated to get the right treatment. Such conditions are often presented with changes in stools, abdominal bloating, bleeding, pain or discomfort and other complaints.
Diagnosis of Gurgling Intestine or Growling Sounds in Stomach
Normal bowel sounds or gurgling intestines do not require any evaluation. When growling stomach is associated with other gastric complaints, it may be necessary to seek medical opinion. The doctor examines the abdominal area, hears gurgling sounds using a stethoscope over the abdomen and discusses your medical history.
Blood tests and stool examination may be ordered to detect presence of any infection. Investigations like X-rays, CT scan of abdomen, barium meal studies or endoscopy may be performed, if required.
Treatment for Gurgling Intestines or Growling Sounds in Stomach
If growling sounds in stomach are due to hunger or as a normal part of digestive process, no treatment would be required.
In case of gastrointestinal conditions, treatment depends on the underlying cause. Any gastric infection is treated with anti-biotics and anti-diarrheal medications, inflamed colon (colitis) may be treated with anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic medicines. Probiotics may help to improve digestion and can be taken in the form of yogurt, buttermilk or as supplements.
In case of severe problems and bowel sounds occurring due to bowel damage, obstruction or bleeding, immediate medical care is required and hospitalization may be necessary. Treatment includes removing the cause and minimizing the symptoms, which may include intravenous medications and fluids. In some severe cases, surgical treatment may be considered as appropriate.
Home Remedies for Gurgling Intestines or Growling Sounds in Stomach
If there is no specific underlying cause, you can try these home remedies for your gurgling intestines.
- The best home remedy to get rid of gurgling intestine or growling sound in stomach is to include a mix of all food groups and have a healthy balanced meal. Include roughage and high fiber food one by one to avoid gastric disturbances. It will also help to clear your bowels and reduce the sounds.
- Drink water throughout the day and not when eating meals. Take small meals at shorter intervals and avoid taking larger meals at once.
- Avoid foods that cause stomach to growl, spicy, oily food, stimulants like tea, coffee, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and smoking. Avoid overeating, especially when eating outside or during weekends.
- Stress can play an important role in your digestion. So take a good night’s sleep and practice relaxation techniques and meditation.
- Regular physical activity, exercises and yoga can help your body remain fit, improve your digestion and relieve your complaints of gurgling intestines or growling sounds in stomach.
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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). Gas in the Digestive Tract. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract
Mayo Clinic. (2020). Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
Mayo Clinic. (2019). Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353315