If you experience borborygmi, or rumbling noises coming from your digestive tract, chances are you're just hungry. Eating anything should stop the rumbling. If your borborygmi tend to be exceptionally loud or occur along with gas, pain or other symptoms, they might indicate that you need to make some adjustments to your diet. Borborygmi can be a sign of serious illness. Consult your doctor if your symptoms are particularly painful or persistent.
In order for loud borborygmi to occur, you must have a large quantity of gas in your intestinal tract, notes Dr. R. Douglas Collins, fellow of the American College of Physicians and author of "Differential Diagnosis in Primary Care." When you eat, drink, or swallow saliva, you inevitably swallow air. More frequent swallowing or eating large amounts quickly can result in excess air intake and borborygmi. Increased production of gas in the intestines, or failure of the intestines to absorb gas can also contribute to a rumbling stomach. Food sensitivities and inflammatory issues in the digestive tract are common causes.
To eliminate potential dietary causes of borborygmi, cut back on carbonated drinks, overeating and overdrinking. Talking increases the flow of saliva, which you will swallow along with air, Collins notes. If you can, take a break from talking when you notice borborygmi acting up. Food sensitivities, especially those related to sugars, increase intestinal gas substantially. Lactose intolerance and sensitivity to fruit sugars are common sources of excess intestinal gas, according to the website Health and Age.com. Try cutting out dairy products or fruit and fruit juices for a day or two to see if your borborygmi clears up. Many processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup — eliminate these too if you suspect that fructose causes your borborygmi.
Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, views borborygmi as one symptom of stagnant qi or vital life energy. If your rumbling stomach manifests alongside abdominal pain, a sensation of pressure on your abdomen, diarrhea and a desire for hot drinks, you might be suffering from a lack of qi in your small intestine, according to Giovanni Maciocia, practitioner of acupuncture since 1974 and author of "The Foundations of Chinese Medicine." TCM relates this problem to overconsumption of raw and cold foods. A corrective diet would include plenty of warm foods, soups and stews, with an emphasis on gently warming spices like ginger and cinnamon.
If you can't identify any dietary causes of borborygmi, you might want to look to your personal and emotional life for a solution, say Elisa Rossi, scientific coordinator for the Italian Federation of Schools of Tuina and Qigong, and Laura Caretto, lecturer at the MediCina TCM School in Milan, Italy, authors of "Shen: Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Chinese Medicine." An emotionally charged situation or serious conflict can cause sensations of heaviness in your chest, restless sleep, and irritable, unstable moods or panic attacks alongside borborygmi. Eating regular meals and dialing back the drama will help.
Some serious medical conditions cause borborygmi. Intestinal adhesions, polyps, celiac disease and parasites are all potential causes of gas overproduction and malabsorption, according to Collins. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, results in abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Some IBS sufferers also experience borborygmi, according to Carolyn Dean, medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association and holistic wellness consultant in Maui, co-author of "IBS for Dummies." See your doctor if you think you might have any of these conditions.
Is This an Emergency?
- “Differential Diagnosis in Primary Care”; R. Douglas Collins; 2007
- Health and Age.com: Borborygmi and Apple Juice
- “The Foundations of Chinese Medicine”; Giovanni Maciocia; 1989
- “Shen: Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Chinese Medicine”; Elisa Rossi and Laura Caretto; 2007
- “IBS for Dummies”; Carolyn Dean, L. Christine Wheeler; 2005