Our bodies make noise all the time. We snore, burp and pass gas, and sometimes our joints crack. But are our internal soundtracks normal or unhealthy?
We got this email from a viewer:
Dear Dr. Manny,
My stomach makes the loudest and strangest gurgling noises all the time— even when I'm not hungry! Should I be worried and visit a doctor, or is there a simple way to prevent it?
A noisy abdomen does not necessarily mean you are hungry. The digestive system causes stomach sounds, known as Borborygmi, when air or fluid is moving around the small and large intestines.
During a process called peristalsis, stomach muscles and the small intestine contract and move contents forward in the gastrointestinal tract.
“These sounds occur both when the stomach is full and when it is empty.” Dr. Shawn Khodadadian, a gastroenterologist in New York City, told FoxNews.com. “About two hours after your stomach empties, there is signaling from the brain for the digestive muscles and peristalsis to begin again. These contractions and vibrations of an empty stomach may make you hungry, and the growling may be louder in this case because your stomach and intestines are empty so the noise created is not muffled.”
People who swallow a lot of air, usually caused from eating too fast or talking while eating, may experience more rumblings than others.
Another common cause for a chattering stomach is poor digestion. Fructose and artificial sweeteners, which are often found in sugarless gum and diet sodas, contain sugar alcohols that can be difficult for intestines to absorb. People with a lactose intolerance or celiac disease are also more likely to have increased intestinal noise.
Although these noisy gurgling sounds can be uncomfortable or even embarrassing, they are generally a sign that your intestines are working well. However, stomach noises can also signal a bigger problem.
“Although stomach gurgling can be completely normal and part of healthy digestion, if accompanied by symptoms, this should be looked into a little bit closer,” Khodadadian said. “For example, excessive gurgling together with cramping, abdominal pain and possibly nausea and vomiting may be a sign of an obstruction in the bowels.”
Khodadadian added that growling could be a symptom of a food intolerance or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
“In this scenario, the growling can be associated with gas, flatulence and distention of the abdomen,” he said.
To help reduce the natural gurgling of your stomach, Khodadadian suggests two simple tips:
1. Avoid excessive carbonated drinks because they can cause buildup of gas in the intestines.
2. Take a walk after meals to aid in digestion and keep your bowels moving along.
If your stomach noises are accompanied by symptoms, Khodadadian advises speaking with your doctor.
Do you have a health question for Dr. Manny? Please send it to DrManny@FoxNews.com.