Stomach Noises and Bloating

July 14, 2008

Car journeys through the free-ways always upset my stomach. To top it, my stomach started grumbling one day, as I was traveling in a car with my friends. I had heard of this expression without having any first hand experience. It was embarrassing as I thought what if they mistook the noise for something else. During another occasion, as soon as I swallowed some food there came a distant unseen noise “BRRRRRRR” from my esophagus that lasted for a few seconds. I tried gulping in some water to suppress it. It is a nuisance if you are in a meeting or in the theatre. Now, I have self-invented, well-rehearsed techniques to muffle them.”

Noises from the stomach can be described as rumbling, gurgling or growling. They are normal and show signs of good digestion . A noisy stomach is asking aloud for food. Nevertheless, it still yells at you madly even while eating as the food passes through the intestines.

The main reason for the rumble inside is hunger. A part of the brain called hypothalamus and the gastrointestines work together to signal hunger. The body prepares to welcome the food by muscular contractions, the release of acids and other digestive fluids. Once we have the appetite and the urge to eat just the thought of food, the sight or the smell can trigger of your system. It starts preparing to eat noisily. The stomach is so expressive when gas, fluids, broken down particles of food and fermenting bacteria move around and interact with each other. Doctors push aside the noisiness unaccompanied by any other discomfort as natural and harmless.

You can find your belly growling also when you have a functional disorder like IBS. As your emotional condition worsens you feel a loss of appetite or hunger and you coneveniently skip a meal ending up with a very troublesome stomach. Gastrointestinal disorders also cause a certain grumbling in the tummy along with bloating, flatulence, cramps or diarrhea .

Sometimes, the monologue of your stomach (or deservedly called ‘the language of the digestive system’) can account to ‘gassy’ food. In such situations, you should monitor your diet and remember what irritated your stomach and try to avoid it or reduce the intake. The stomach churns and cries usually while confronting very hot and spicy food, broccoli, garlic and some sauces. The addition of curd or butter milk in the diet helps with acidity. Some people find relief with warm milk while some dread at the thought of dairy products. The gurgling of your stomach after food is normal and a sign of health in most cases. If it is silent then you probably stand the chance of constipation, say experts. However, if your noisy belly troubles you frequently for more than 2-3 weeks, it is good to consult your doctor.

Some common reasons for a roaring stomach are

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Skipping a meal especially break fast
  • Not taking food at the right time (when you are hungry) and not taking sufficient food.
  • Use of alcohol and gas-generating food items
  • A diet lower in calories or lacking in nutritional options
  • Ingesting food that has high fiber or food products like milk, beans, etc.
  • Carbonated drinks and caffeinated beverages like coffee
  • Excessive air swallowed due to quick eating, smoking or chewing gum.
  • Intake of food stuff that may aggravate intestinal gas. Eg: sugar alcohols sorbitol
  • An upset stomach gurgles
  • Due to some body positions it can make noise
  • Using tight belts, tightly knotted pants etc.

The stomach is religiously emptied and cleared of its food particles by the digestive juices. So it is helpful to take snacks (healthy snacks!) even if you have to skip a meal. Food will quieten up things. Drinks lots of water. Lukewarm water can replace cold drinks. And it is good to consciously stop gulping in unnecessary air.

-Aparna KV

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