Stomach Noises: 5 Main Causes and What To Do

Stomach noises are normal and most of the time happen after a meal. This is because after eating, the walls of the digestive system need to contract to allow foods to pass from the stomach to the intestines, which leads to stomach gurgling.

Besides that, stomach noises can also be a clear sign of hunger, since the increase in the levels of the hormone responsible for the hunger sensation can also cause the intestines and stomach to contract, resulting in stomach noises.

However, when stomach gurgling comes with other symptoms such as pain or increase of the abdomen, it can also indicate some health problems such as infections, inflammations, or constipation. In these cases, it is important to visit the doctor to identify the cause and start adequate treatment.

Stomach Noises: 5 Main Causes and What To Do

The main causes of stomach noises are:

1. Hunger

Hunger is one of the main causes of stomach noises because when we feel hungry there is an increase in the concentration of some substances in the brain, which guarantee the feeling of hunger and which send signals to the bowels and the stomach, leading to the contraction of those organs and to gurgling sounds.

What to do: When hunger is the cause of stomach rumbling, the best thing to do is to eat something, choosing healthy foods that are rich in fiber to encourage bowel movements and digestion.

2. Gas

If there is a bigger quantity of gas than of liquid passing through the digestive system, this will also lead to stomach noises.

What to do: it’s important to avoid having foods that cause gas, such as beans or cabbage, as these foods ferment a lot during the digestive process and increase the quantity of gas produced, which leads to rumbling noises.

3. Infections and gastrointestinal inflammations 

Gurgling sounds can also happen due to bowel infections or inflammations, especially in the case of Crohn’s disease. In these cases it is also normal to have other symptoms, such as pain and discomfort, malaise, nausea or diarrhea.

What to do: as soon as symptoms emerge, it’s important to visit an emergency department or a hospital so that dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and other complications can be avoided. Additionally, it’s important to rest, follow a healthy diet, and use medication only if indicated by a doctor.

4. Bowel obstruction

Bowel obstruction can also lead to stomach noises because, when it is hard for liquid and gas to pass through the gastrointestinal tract, the intestines increase the number of peristaltic movements to aid the passage of those liquids and gases. This increases stomach gurgling. 

Bowel obstruction is a very serious condition that can be caused by worms, intestinal endometriosis, inflammatory diseases or hernias. In these cases not only will there be stomach rumblings but also other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, strong cramps, lack of appetite and nausea. 

What to do: treatment for bowel obstruction varies according to the cause but it is important for the treatment to be done in the hospital to prevent complications.

5. Hernia

A hernia is a situation characterized by a part of the intestine coming out of the body, which can cause constipation and consequently stomach rumbles. In addition, other symptoms may arise, such as pain, swelling, redness, nausea, and vomiting.  

What to do: it is recommended that you go immediately to a surgeon so the severity of the hernia can be assessed. Then surgery will be considered in order to avoid complications, such as strangulation of an abdominal organ, which leads to a decrease in blood flow in the location and consequently necrosis.

When to go to the doctor

You need to see a doctor if you have other symptoms, such as:

  • Pain;
  • Swollen abdomen;
  • Fever;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Frequent diarrhea or constipation;
  • Blood in stool;
  • Quick weight loss, with no apparent cause.

According to the symptoms, doctors may prescribe some exams such as CT scan, endoscopy or blood tests, so that the cause can be identified and the most adequate treatment started.

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References

  • INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR GASTROINTESTINAL DISORDERS. A Noisy Tummy: What Does it Mean?. Available on: <https://www.iffgd.org/symptoms-causes/abdominal-noises.html>. Access in 28 Jan 2020
  • AHIMA, Rexford S.; ANTWI, Daniel A. Brain regulation of appetite and satiety. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. Vol 37. 4 ed; 811–823, 2008
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