Tummy Growl

What Causes a Tummy Growl?

Everyone has experienced a tummy growl at one time or another. Sometimes it may occur at a time when you need to be quiet and this can be embarrassing. A tummy growl is a normal part of the digestive process. A lot of people know that it is an indication of being hungry but it is also more than that.


Normal digestion can cause all different kinds of stomach noises. Although it can mean hunger, you can also hear rumbles and growls right after eating as well. These noises can occur whenever food is going through the intestines. If you have had an empty stomach for a long time, your brain contacts your stomach. When the signal is received, the stomach muscles start to contract. This is when you feel hunger.

These muscle contractions, which cause the feeling of hunger, are known as peristalsis and they are exactly the same kind as you have after eating when the food is pushed through the intestines by rhythmic contractions. You do not often hear a growl after eating because the noise is made by gas and air that are passing through the digestive tract. When the tube is filled with food, it dampens the noise so that it is sometimes undetectable.


The name for a tummy growl is not at all easy to pronounce. It is one of those words which is supposed to sound like what it means. The word is borborygmi and it is supposed to be the sound of food passing through the intestines. At times when the stomach doesn’t tolerate certain foods or the food cannot be entirely digested, the tummy growl can be much worse. The undigested food is taken care of by bacteria in the intestines.

A tummy growl can also come when you swallow air. Some people swallow a lot more air than others and some do it when they are stressed out. This is also the case when you burp after drinking a soda or other carbonated beverages. Gas is a big cause of stomach growling. You can get gas from eating certain foods, such as beans, milk, vegetables, etc.

If you have long-term trouble with air and gas in the intestines you should see a doctor to find out if you have another problem which might be causing the tummy growl. For instance, it can happen if you have allergies to certain foods. Some people have an allergy to milk products and other foods. If you want to have less noise in your stomach, you can open your mouth less while chewing and swallowing. If you are taking in air such as while talking during eating, you can eliminate those types of actions.

If you have a lot of gas causing a noisy stomach you should learn about how the digestive process works. Food literally passes down a long tube that runs all the way from the mouth to the anus. While the muscle contractions move the food along this path they also help to churn it and enzymes and digestive juices are added along the way.  This whole mixture has a name: chyme.

Stomach growling can occur because of gastrointestinal upset or diseases which affect the bowels, such as irritable bowel syndrome. In cases like this, diarrhea can also accompany the stomach growling.

If you eat a lot constantly or you eat several small meals a day and the digestive tract is never free of food to push through, you may never hear a tummy growl. Air pockets are necessary for the noise to be made. And, if the growling bothers you, you can also eat foods which cause less gas.