Stomach Rumbles Happen To Everyone, And Can Happen Before Or After Eating

Man Playing A Drum
Does it sound like someone is playing drums in your abdomen? We all have bowel sounds, but they can be more or less pronounced based on several factors.. Image © Jacqui Elliot-Willi / Moment / Getty Images

Borborygmi is the sound that gas makes as it moves through the intestines. It can occur when you're hungry, but it can also happen after meals. It's often called "stomach growling" or "stomach rumbling." Borborygmi is normal and most of the time no one can hear it, but it can be loud enough to be audible from time to time.

How Often Does Borborygmi Occur?

The intestines are often noisier after eating, as food is being moved through them.

At night, when we sleep, these noises may subside if there is no digestion taking place.

After having abdominal surgery, a doctor may listen to your abdomen with a stethoscope. This is to hear if the bowel has "woken up" and started to function in its normal capacity again. In many cases, liquids or foods are not allowed until these sounds are heard.

An Absence Of Bowel Sounds

When these regular sounds in the digestive tract are missing, it's called the "absence of bowel sounds." If the stomach and intestines are not making noise, it could mean that they are not working, or not working as they should. This lack of noise could indicate that there is a problem happening in the digestive tract. If a physician listens to the abdomen with a stethoscope and doesn't hear anything, or doesn't hear what they expect to hear, some tests might need to be done to determine if there's something wrong, especially if there are other symptoms, like pain or bleeding.

If there is acute pain in the abdomen, and no bowel sounds, it could be a very serious condition that requires immediate treatment.

What Causes Intestinal Gas?

Everyone has gas in their intestinal tract. How much gas a person has is somewhat variable, and is related to their diet as well as any digestive conditions that they may have.

Gas can occur from swallowing too much air, or from the normal process of food breaking down in the small intestine. Many people think they have too much gas, but it is a normal part of digestion, and actually having a condition that produces too much gas is rare.

Can Everyone Hear My Stomach Rumbling?

In most cases, probably not, because these noises are loudest to you, the person experiencing them. At times, however, it can happen that they are loud enough for other people to hear. Everyone has had a time when they were very hungry and their stomach started making little noises. These noises might be even more pronounced in some people who have had some kind of bowel surgery. If it happens to be embarrassing, an offhand comment of "Oops, I forgot to eat breakfast!" or something similar may help in letting the situation go by. 

Pronunciation: BOR-boh-RIG-mee

Also Known As: stomach growling

Common Misspellings: borborigmi, borborygmee

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