The audible noise you hear from your belly, scientifically known as borborygmus, is a result of food, liquid, or gas making its way through your stomach and small intestine. These borborygmi are frequently accompanied by additional signs such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
Many people experience a growling stomach from time to time. Your body might be trying to indicate hunger but also could be hinting at a potentially severe underlying condition.
Your digestive tract follows a cycle that lasts around two hours, even with an empty stomach.
Peristalsis is a natural part of the digestive process. It is a series of digestive muscle contractions that brings food, fluid, and gas through your gastrointestinal tract. While peristalsis is normal, it can contribute to rumbling noises.
If you are having persistent stomach growling and live in the Denver area, schedule a consultation with one of the healthcare professionals at PrimeHealth to find relief.
What Causes Stomach Growling?
Stomach growling is primarily caused by the movement of food, liquids, and air through the body. It can be triggered by hunger when the appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin prompts stomach contractions.
Other common causes of stomach growling and hyperactive bowel sounds include:
- Slow or incomplete digestion
- Anxiety, stress
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Food allergies (such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intestinal blockage
- Eating too quickly
- Eating gassy foods
- Eating acidic foods
Does a growling stomach mean it’s empty? No, a growling stomach does not always mean you have an empty stomach. Stomach sounds can happen at any time, whether you have eaten or not.
What are the symptoms of a growling stomach? While stomach growling isn’t a health condition with symptoms itself, it can be a symptom of a gastrointestinal illness like IBD or ulcerative colitis. Stomach growling may also just be a case of eating something that doesn’t sit well with you like too much sugar or overdoing it with probiotics.
Why Is My Stomach Growling, but I’m Not Hungry?
When your stomach growls and you’re not hungry, you may have eaten too quickly or at an abnormal time. The growling noises from your stomach that are not the result of hunger can be a result of anxiety or stress.
If you experience stomach rumbling at the same time as other symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation, it is more likely the gurgling sounds are a result of irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, intestinal blockage, or intestinal infection.
Is a Rumbling Stomach a Sign of Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer can make your tummy gurgle. If your stomach growling is accompanied by the following symptoms, you should seek medical advice from a gastroenterologist or your healthcare provider right away:
- Blood in your stool
- Excess gas
- Nausea, vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Unintended weight loss
How To Stop a Growling Stomach
What should I do if my stomach is growling? The rumbling sound from your stomach is a normal part of your digestive system, and usually no cause for concern.
How do you fix a growling stomach? If your growling stomach is not the result of an underlying health condition, you can try to fix the noise with these 11 tips:
Stomach growling is often your body signaling that you are hungry or have low blood sugar. If you haven’t had a meal in a while, eat away! Even eating a quick healthy snack can muffle grumbling or stop stomach noises altogether.
If your stomach has a tendency to growl, you may need to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day.
2. Eat and Chew Slowly
Eating slowly helps you digest food more efficiently, stopping stomach grumbling before it even begins. The enzymes in your mouth will start to break down food prior to you even swallowing. This is a very important step in digestion.
Make an effort to chew more slowly. We’re not just saying to spend more time between bites, but actually chew the food slower, with your mouth closed. Slower, more intentional eating with thorough chewing decreases the amount of air you swallow.
This means the amount of gas in your stomach is reduced, along with the potential for stomach growling.
3. Don’t Eat Too Much
Overeating is another problem that can cause stomach growling. Giving your body too much to digest makes the process more difficult, resulting in grumbles and gurgling. Outside of just growling, eating too much can trigger other digestive problems, including cramping and bloating.
4. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is important for a healthy body. Water helps the digestive process along and can prevent you from overeating by filling your stomach.
However, drinking big gulps of water can allow too much air in. To prevent stomach grumbles, drink small amounts of water throughout the day. It’s best to try and drink water in between meals and less during meals since this will allow digestive enzymes to work better.
Perhaps surprisingly, Denver’s water is filled with contaminants exceeding EWG guidelines.
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5. Relieve Stress
Look to calm your mind and body to reduce the noises coming from your stomach and intestines. Meditation and yoga are always great ways to relieve stress and center your focus.
A full night’s sleep (7-8 hours) is also important for stress management. Get higher quality sleep by turning off technology an hour or two before bedtime (because of blue light emissions). In addition, wear blue light blocker glasses at night after the sun goes down to help your body adjust to a restful state.
To receive a 10% discount off our favorite blue light blocking glasses by Ra Optics, enter code PRIMEHEALTH at checkout.
The importance of stress and anxiety management cannot be understated. Chronic stress and anxiety are the root causes of many diseases, such as some that result in stomach growling.
6. Eat Less Gassy Food
Certain foods cause more gas production than others. Being mindful of your intake of gassy foods can stop your stomach from growling.
You probably are aware of the correlation between beans and gas, but there are some more surprisingly gassy foods:
- Brussels sprouts
- Dairy products
- Carbonated sodas
7. Eat Fewer Acidic Foods
Acidic foods like citrus and other fruits, tomatoes, and spicy dishes can stimulate the production of stomach acid. Stomach acid is necessary to break down food, but the increase can cause increased stomach growling.
Your stomach lining may also become more irritated when you consume acidic foods, leading to increased peristalsis. Avoiding acidic foods can help if stomach grumbling is a persistent problem.
8. Eat Less Sugar
Consuming sugar can trigger diarrhea, flatulence, and stomach growling, particularly fructose, but also sugar alcohols like erythritol and sorbitol, and artificial sweeteners. When sugars cannot be broken down, they sit in the intestines and ferment.
As the sugars move through the large intestine, gas builds up. Just like when you hear water going through a pipe, you will hear this process as it moves through your intestines.
9. Drink Less Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages irritate your gastrointestinal tract and can be another trigger for stomach growling. Inflammation of your stomach and alcoholic gastritis can not only cause the stomach to make noises, but also lead to stomach pain and other gastrointestinal disorders.
10. Take a Walk
Taking a walk after you eat makes your stomach empty faster and helps the digestive process along. 15 minutes after eating, take a slow and relaxing 20-minute walk. Make sure to walk, as rigorous exercise after eating can have the opposite effect.
Staying active is important to overall health, particularly digestive health.
11. Test for Food Intolerances
If you are experiencing persistent stomach growling, now may be the time for you to figure out if you have a food allergy or food intolerance. Many functional practitioners offer helpful food intolerance tests, or you can try the AIP diet for 1-3 months, then reintroduce foods back in to learn the cause of your concerns.
Are Your Abdominal Sounds Caused by IBS?
Common symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal sounds (growling, etc.)
- Diarrhea or constipation
If you are in the Dever area and looking for IBS relief, schedule a phone consultation with PrimeHealth. We are dedicated to not only treating but empowering patients to take their lives back from IBS.
When To Call Your Doctor
Stomach growling is usually a very common part of digestion. If you are experiencing your stomach making loud gurgling noises and diarrhea or other concurrent symptoms, visit your doctor’s office to check for any possible underlying conditions.
Visit your doctor for testing right away if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Blood in your bowel movements
- Persistent constipation
- Persistent diarrhea
- Constant abdominal pain
Diagnosing Abnormal Stomach Growling
To diagnose persistent or abnormal grumbling in your stomach or intestines, your provider will probably ask about:
- Other concurrent symptoms
- Medical history
- Family history
If anything out of the ordinary is suspected, your doctor will order further testing.
A family history of Crohn’s disease or bowel cancer with stomach noises could warrant a more in-depth exploration of your symptoms. Doctors may order imaging tests or a biopsy to screen for more serious diseases.
At PrimeHealth, we test for a few more underlying causes than your typical doctor, including SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) — which could lead to IBS and stomach grumbling. We would also likely conduct a full functional stool analysis to assess for infections, parasites, irregularities in your gut microbiome, and other problems in digestion.
With all the potential causes, a growling stomach affects millions of Americans. It is important to find out the cause of your stomach rumbling, so you and/or your doctor can figure out how to treat it.
A little gurgling in your stomach is normal. Usually, it means something harmless. But it is good to understand when to go to the doctor.
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