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Ask the Experts

What Makes Your Stomach Growl?

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: What causes stomach growling?

A: Such sounds—which actually originate in the intestines—indicate that things are moving in the digestive tract as they should be. They are called borborygmi, from the Greek word meaning gurgling or rumbling.

The digestive tract is lined with muscles that cause continual contractions, generally while you’re awake. Foods, liquids, and trapped gases are propelled along by these contractions, which produce vibrations, clicks, and gurgles. Between meals, contractions continue to sweep any remaining food particles and fluids through the intestines.

If you haven’t eaten in a long time, the sounds can be loud. The intestines are hollow, and if little or no food is present, there’s less to muffle the rumbles. The more gas relative to food and liquids, the more likely you are to hear the sounds. Conditions such as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome, which increase gas, can also make bowel sounds louder. If besides hearing growling you experience pain or frequent diarrhea, see your doctor.

Also see 8 Intestinal Gas Remedies.