8 Reasons Your Stomach Makes Those Weird Noises

07/23/2012

Man-touching-stomachWe all experience stomach noise from time to time. You know, those high pitched gurgles and rumbles that only seem to appear when you're in a quiet room with lots of people or having that serious conversation with your boss. Yep, they sure can be loud and kind of embarrassing.

WHY DOES MY STOMACH MAKE NOISE?

If we are hungry or feel the urge to eat, just the sight, smell or thought of food will cause our digestive system to signal the brain to get all systems prepared for the entry of food. This causes the muscles that line the stomach and intestines to start moving and release digestive fluids, which in turn interact with the air and fermented gas floating inside our intestinal system (not too appetizing to think about while on the buffet line). Most often this process is silent, but does have the potential to play the “gastric symphony,” otherwise known in medical circles as “borborygmi.”

In general, these noises are not worrisome and may be due to one or more of the following:

• A new diet, especially if it is significantly lower in calories or very restrictive in nutritional options

• Food intolerance (high fiber, milk, beans, etc.)

• Drinking carbonated and/or caffeinated beverages

• Swallowing excessive air (eating too quickly, chewing gum or smoking)

• Eating foods containing sweeteners that may increase intestinal gas such as the sugar alcohols sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, mannitol, and others

• Body position (lying down, on your side, etc.)

• Abdominal restriction (tight waistband or belt)

• Stress

DOES MY NOISY STOMACH NEED A TUNE UP WITH A PHYSICIAN?

If you experience a change in your usual stomach noise pattern, it would be helpful to record a “stomach sound diary” for two to three weeks. Write down the foods you eat and drinks you consume, the activity that triggered the grumbles and rumbles (lying down, exercising, sitting down at work, smoking, etc.), the timing to food (before, during or after a meal), if you were stressed, anxious or upset, skipped a meal (especially breakfast), as well any symptoms such as a change in your bowel movement pattern, pain or abdominal cramping.

Next, it’s important to visit your physician for a thorough physical examination. Depending on the results, diagnostic testing (endoscopy, colonoscopy, etc.) may be requested.

The bottom line is that your stomach's rumbling and grumbling is usually nothing more than a noisy expression of what it is doing at that time. However, if there has been a change in pattern or other symptoms along with your noisy stomach, please see your physician.

Thankfully, a little change in dietary habits may go a long way toward controlling the volume of your stomach's "inner voice."

More on Your Stomach:

Why Does My Stomach Growl?

How Your Digestive System Works

18 Remedies for an Upset Stomach


Dr. Rob believes in preventative and integrative approaches to medicine. He specializes in family medicine as well as children's health and wellness.
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