Gut Health

Stomach Gurgling Digestive Issues and How to Fix Them

Stomach Gurgling Digestive Issues and How to Fix Them

Our gut is at the root of our health, and our gut can also help to let us know what’s going on in our body. Stomach gurgling, also sometimes called stomach growling, refers to noises made within the small and large intestines that typically occur during digestion.

 

Sometimes these sounds can cause concern, especially if they are persistent or abnormally loud. Here, we are going to discuss what stomach gurgling is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

 

What Is Stomach Gurgling?

 

As mentioned, stomach gurgling refers to noises made within the small and large intestines that typically occur during digestion. The intestines are hollow chambers that allow food to pass through them. Because of this hollowness, sounds that come from the intestines during digestion are often similar to the sounds of water moving through pipes.

 

Stomach gurgling sounds are usually a normal part of the digestive process. However, frequent or unusually loud sounds may indicate an underlying condition within the digestive system.

 

What Causes Stomach Gurgling?

 

The most likely culprit of your stomach gurgling is simply the food that is passing through your digestive system. As food, liquids, digestive juices, and air pass through your intestines, it is common for them to be accompanied by this gurgling noise.

 

Another very common cause of stomach gurgling sounds is hunger. When you’re hungry, there are hormone-like substances in the brain that activate the desire to eat, which then sends signals to the intestines and stomach. This causes the muscles in your digestive system to contract and cause these sounds. It’s one way your body calls for your attention to feed it.

 

Once you eat, your stomach may continue to grumble or gurgle as your intestines digest your meal. The walls of the intestinal tract are mostly made up of muscle that contracts to mix and squeeze the food through your intestines so it can be digested. This process is referred to as peristalsis. Peristalsis is typically what is responsible for the rumbling sound you hear after eating, and it can also occur several hours after eating.

 

Normal, Hypoactive, and Hyperactive Stomach Gurgling

 

As you may have noticed, stomach gurgling is not always the same. Sometimes it is very quiet, sometimes it can be quite loud. There are different types of stomach gurgling, and they are typically classified as either normal, hypoactive, or hyperactive abdominal sounds.

 

Hypoactive, or reduced, bowel sounds typically indicate that intestinal activity has slowed down. Hyperactive bowel sounds, on the other hand, are louder sounds that are related to an increase in intestinal activity. These often occur after eating or when you have diarrhea.

 

While occasional hypoactive and hyperactive bowel sounds are normal, it may indicate a medical problem or digestive issue if you experience frequent or prolonged stomach gurgling of either hypoactive or hyperactive stomach gurgling.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Gurgling?

 

Stomach gurgling sounds on their own are not usually a cause for concern. However, if there are other symptoms that accompany the stomach gurgling sounds, then it may indicate an underlying health issue. Symptoms to look out for may include:

 

  • Excess gas
  • Fever
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Feelings of fullness

 

If you experience any of these symptoms along with your stomach gurgling, you may want to consult your doctor, especially if these symptoms persist for multiple days.

 

While hypoactive and hyperactive stomach gurgling is not always a cause for concern, it may indicate a more serious digestive issue, such as:

 

  • Blocked blood vessels that are preventing the intestines from getting proper blood flow
  • Bowel obstruction, which could be caused by a hernia, tumor, adhesions, or other digestive conditions
  • Paralytic ileus, which is an issue with the nerves connected to the intestines

 

People are generally more concerned when they hear an active or overactive stomach, but don’t usually think underactive or reduced bowel noises are an issue. Our gut is naturally supposed to produce some noise during the digestive process. Hypoactive, or reduced, bowel sounds could also be a potential cause for concern, and may be caused by drugs that can slow your digestion and elimination; abdominal surgery; coming off of general anesthesia; spinal anesthesia; or radiation to the abdomen.

 

Additional causes of hyperactive, or increased, bowel sounds may be caused by issues like Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; diarrhea; food allergies; gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding; or infectious enteritis.

 

If your stomach growls occasionally before dinner or after a big meal, it is usually a good sign that your digestive system is working as it should. It is only if you notice a change around how often your stomach is gurgling, or the volume of your stomach gurgling, that you should pay more attention and may want to consider a visit with your doctor if there is some cause of concern.

 

How to Stop Stomach Gurgling

 

Typical stomach gurgling that accompanies hunger or digestion is natural and doesn’t require any type of special treatment. If the sounds are accompanied by bloating, or excess gas, then consider limiting your intake of foods that are known to produce more gas, such as:

 

  • Beans
  • Certain vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and artichokes
  • Certain fruits like plums, peaches, apples and raisins
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Whole-grain and bran products
  • Artificial sweeteners (like sorbitol)

 

You can also produce excess gas from wallowing air by eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, or chewing gum.

 

Carminatives for Gas & Stomach Gurgling

 

One common and natural remedy for stomach gurgling is to use carminative herbs. Carminative herbs are herbs that soothe the digestive tract by expelling gas from the stomach or intestines. Some of the most common carminative herbs include:

 

 

A simple remedy for a variety of common digestive ailments is to drink ginger, mint or chamomile tea. Make sure that they are organic herbs, and that the brand you use does not use bleached tea bags. You can also use the loose herbs in a strainer to avoid potential chemicals in tea bags. Drink a few cups of either of these teas throughout the day, and consider eating lighter, simpler meals to give your digestive system a rest.

 

Some people recommend going on the BRAT diet if you experience digestive issues. BRAT is an acronym for Bananas, Rice, Apples (or applesauce) and Toast. This diet was once a staple of many pediatricians' recommendations for children with an upset stomach. The idea behind this diet is that it gives the gut a chance to rest and reduces the amount of stool produced. It is also high in dietary fiber which may aid the digestive system.

 

When Should I See a Doctor?

 

If you experience stomach gurgling along with other symptoms, especially if the issue persists for several days or the symptoms are severe, then it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to get it looked at. Your doctor may know what is going on right away or find out the issue with a simple exam. Depending on the symptoms, your doctor may also wish to perform some additional tests to get to the bottom of your digestive issue, such as:

 

  • A CT scan, used to take X-ray images of the abdominal area.
  • An endoscopy, a test that uses a camera attached to a small, flexible tube to capture pictures within the stomach or intestines.
  • Blood tests, used to rule out infection, inflammation, or organ damage.

 

Bowel obstructions typically produce very loud, high-pitched sounds that can often be heard without using a stethoscope. They may also co-occur with pain in the stomach, bloating, and a lack of bowel movement.

 

If your stomach gurgling is associated with any signs of a medical emergency, such as bleeding, bowel damage, or severe obstruction, you’ll need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. For some people, receiving fluids by vein and allowing the intestinal system to rest will be enough to treat the problem. Other people may require surgery.

 

Summary

 

Stomach gurgling, also sometimes called stomach growling, refers to noises made within the small and large intestines that typically occur during digestion. The intestines are hollow chambers that allow food to pass through them. Because of this hollowness, sounds that come from the intestines during digestion are often similar to the sounds of water moving through pipes.

 

Stomach gurgling sounds are usually a normal part of the digestive process. However, frequent or unusually loud sounds may indicate an underlying condition within the digestive system.

 

The most likely culprit of your stomach gurgling is simply the food that is passing through your digestive system. As food, liquids, digestive juices, and air pass through your intestines, it is common for them to be accompanied by this gurgling noise.

 

Another very common cause of stomach gurgling sounds is hunger. When you’re hungry, there are hormone-like substances in the brain that activate the desire to eat, which then sends signals to the intestines and stomach. This causes the muscles in your digestive system to contract and cause these sounds.

 

Stomach gurgling sounds on their own are not usually a cause for concern. However, if there are other symptoms that accompany the stomach gurgling sounds, then it may indicate an underlying health issue. Symptoms to look out for may include:

 

  • Excess gas
  • Fever
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Feelings of fullness

 

Typical stomach gurgling that accompanies hunger or digestion is natural and doesn’t require any type of special treatment. If the sounds are accompanied by bloating, or excess gas, then consider limiting your intake of foods that are known to produce more gas. A common and natural remedy for stomach gurgling or excess gas is to use carminative herbs. Carminative herbs are herbs that soothe the digestive tract by expelling gas from the stomach or intestines.

 

Stomach gurgling is normally not a cause for concern, as it is a part of the natural digestive process. However, if you experience stomach gurgling along with other symptoms, especially if the issue persists for several days or the symptoms are severe, then it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to get it looked at.

 

 

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3028301/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1121753/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK420/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502202/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1983818/

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