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Gut Health

Stomach Noises and Pain: What Your Gut Is Telling You

Stomach Noises and Pain

Stomach noises and pain can tell you a lot about what your body is going through. We run down a list of answers to the question, ‘why does my stomach growl?'

RELATED: Upset Stomach? How Stress Impacts Your Gut Health

 Stomach Noises and Pain: Causes and Symptoms for Those Belly Noises and Cramps

1. Noisy Abdomen

A noisy gut doesn’t always mean you’re hungry. The digestive system causes belly noises, known as borborygmi, when fluids or air moves around your small and large intestines.

Borborygmi Definition: The term for the gurgling or rumbling noises made by the movement of gas and fluids in the intestines. During the process called peristalsis, the small intestine and stomach muscles contract and move contents forward in your gastrointestinal tract. These gas noises in stomach can occur both when the stomach is empty and when it’s full.

Peristalsis Definition: A series of wave-like contraction and relaxation of stomach muscles. Two hours after the stomach contents are emptied, the brain signals the digestive muscles to begin peristalsis again. The belly noises and contractions of an empty stomach can make you hungry. A noisy gut may be louder in this case because the intestines and stomach are empty — the stomach noises and pain are not muffled. Take note that you may swallow a lot of air because of eating too fast or talking while eating. This can lead you to have louder stomach rumbles after eating.

2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder affecting the function of the bowel. There is no known and distinct cause for IBS, but it may be caused by the increased sensitivity of the bowels. IBS is characterized by stomach pain and gas, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea. Medical professionals generally recommend changes to a person’s diet and lifestyle in managing IBS and relieving symptoms.

3. Stress and Anxiety

Stomach Noises and Pain: What Your Gut Is Telling You

Our brains and our digestive system share several of the same nerve connections. Because of this, stress and anxiety have significant impacts on the digestive system. The body releases stress hormones whenever we feel stressed or anxious.

Some of these stress hormones can enter our digestive tract, which leads to the following conditions and symptoms:

  • Stomach churning
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

4. Poor Digestion

A common cause for stomach noises and pain is poor digestion. One of the answers to the question, ‘why does my stomach growl?’ can be due to your diet. Watch out for artificial sweeteners and fructose, which are often found in diet sodas and sugarless gum. These contain sugar alcohols which can be difficult for your intestines to absorb. Stomach pain and gas with gurgling sounds can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. But not to be taken lightly, these may be signs that your intestines aren’t working well. Check for other symptoms which accompany stomach noises and pain, like abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Consult your doctor about these symptoms because there may likely be an obstruction in the bowels. Growling gas noises in stomach could also be a symptom of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine or food intolerance.

5. Indigestion

Indigestion or dyspepsia is the pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. A churning stomach is often temporary and can include the following symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Becoming full too soon
  • A gurgling or churning stomach
  • Stomach gas or belching
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • A burning sensation in the upper abdomen
  • Feeling uncomfortable while eating


There isn’t always an obvious reason for why indigestion occurs, but here are some common causes you should watch out for:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Eating or drinking too much too quickly
  • Eating greasy, acidic, or spicy foods
  • Drinking carbonated or caffeinated beverages too often


Recurrent indigestion may be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition like heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or gastritis, stomach ulcers, gallbladder inflammation. If you’re experiencing severe or recurring indigestion, it’s best to consult a medical professional immediately.


Seek immediate medical attention if the following symptoms accompany indigestion:

  • Severe and persistent abdominal pain
  • Chest, jaw, neck, or arm pain
  • Black or bloody stool
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent and severe vomiting, especially if the vomit contains blood
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Jaundice, yellowing of the arms and skin

6. Viral Gastroenteritis

Stomach Noises and Pain: What Your Gut Is Telling You

Most people often refer to viral gastroenteritis as "stomach flu," a viral infection of the intestines. Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in adults and rotavirus in children. If you have viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

Viral gastroenteritis is normally not serious or fatal. But, diarrhea and frequent vomiting, which accompany stomach flu, can lead to severe dehydration, especially in young children and infants.

RELATED: 7 Signs Your Gut Is Out Of Balance

7. Lactose Intolerance

Stomach churning and belly noises can sometimes be symptoms of food intolerance, like lactose intolerance. People who have lactose intolerance may experience digestive symptoms after consuming foods which contain lactose, a sugar naturally present in dairy and milk products. Lactose intolerance can occur in individuals whose bodies don’t produce enough lactase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose.

Symptoms can include:

  • Bloating and cramping
  • Stomach pain and gas
  • Diarrhea and loose, foul-smelling stools
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach churning
People with lactose intolerance can best manage their symptoms by making dietary changes to avoid dairy products and foods containing lactose.

8. Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease may experience gastrointestinal symptoms after eating foods which contain gluten, a protein found mainly in rye, wheat, and barley. The immune system overreacts to the presence of gluten in the body and starts attacking the small intestine’s lining.

Symptoms may vary among people who have it but the most common ones include:

  • Stomach pain and gas
  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatty, pale, or foul-smelling stools
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Pain in the bones and joints
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Confusion and fatigue
  • Mouth sores


9. Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning is a common cause of Stomach Noises and Pain

Food poisoning is a common cause of stomach pain and gas. It’s a common illness which affects people who have consumed contaminated beverages and food. Harmful bacteria and viruses which have laced foods are the most common culprits of food poisoning. Other known causes are molds, chemicals, and parasites. Food poisoning symptoms can range from mild to severe. They may take several hours or even days to manifest after a person consumes contaminated food.

Common food poisoning symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Fever
  • Chills


10. Intestinal Obstruction

An intestinal obstruction is a blockage within the large or small intestines which prevents digested food and waste products in the digestive tract from passing through. Conditions which can cause intestinal obstruction include a tumor, hernia, or scar tissue resulting from intestinal surgery.

When a person suffers from intestinal obstruction, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Bloating and gurgling belly noises
  • Abdominal pain that comes in waves
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inability to pass gas
People with symptoms of an intestinal obstruction must seek immediate medical attention because an obstruction can potentially lead to life-threatening complications.

11. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Women normally experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a range of symptoms, during the week before their period. Varying digestive symptoms, mood changes, and abdominal pain can occur before and during menstruation. Many women report experiencing at least one of the following digestive symptoms before or during their period:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pelvic pain


Learn these 3 simple steps to boost digestive health in the morning from BIOHM Health:


Stomach noises and pain may mean several things depending on their frequency and severity. There are several potential answers to what causes stomach growling so it’s best to be aware of what you eat and the conditions your body goes through. Provide your stomach probiotic and prebiotic supplements for better gut health.

How do you manage stomach disturbances? Let’s talk about gut health in the comments below. Up Next:

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