Stomach Noises and Pain: What Your Gut Is Telling You
Stomach gurgling (Borborygmi) and churning can tell you a lot about what your body is going through. In this article we will run down a list of answers to the question, ‘why does my stomach growl?’ Keep reading to find out what causes an upset stomach and remedies to help relieve pain or discomfort.
We will also explain some symptoms that are associated with stomach churning and gurgling and suggest what to take for an upset stomach. If you experience an upset stomach after eating, read on for our gut health tips. Your stomach noises may be an indication of underlying conditions.
What is Stomach Churning?
Stomach churning and gurgling can be an uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen. Although a queasy stomach is usually only temporary if you have an upset stomach for a week or longer it could be a sign of an underlying condition.
If you have ever experienced stomach growling, especially stomach gurgling after eating, then you may well know the other symptoms that run alongside it. Other symptoms of a sour stomach can include nausea and digestive issues.
Moreover, continue reading to find out what causes upset stomach and gas. We also explain when you should see a doctor, and further signs to look out for.
Stomach Noises such as stomach churning and gurgling and Pain: Causes and Symptoms for Those Belly Noises and Cramps
1. Noisy Abdomen / Rumbling
A noisy gut does not always mean you’re hungry. There may be other reasons why your stomach is churning and gurgling. 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
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
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Loss of appetite
Continue reading, as later we will discuss more in-depth about how stress can affect our digestive system and overall health. We will explain the link between stress and stomach issues while offering some ideas on improving our stress response.
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 – especially if you often get an upset stomach after eating. 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 that accompany stomach noises like stomach churning and gurgling. As well as 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 the stomach could also be a symptom of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine or food intolerance.
Indigestion or dyspepsia is the pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. A churning stomach is often temporary and can include the following symptoms:
- 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:
- 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
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
- 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
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
- Pain in the bones and joints
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness or tingling in the legs
- Confusion and fatigue
- Mouth sores
9. Food Poisoning
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.
While anyone is at risk of getting food poisoning by eating contaminated food, there are groups of people who are higher risk than others:
- Young Children
- People with Weak Immune System
- Pregnant Women
Common food poisoning symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Some Symptoms include:
- Stomach pain and cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
Overall, if you believe you have food poisoning and you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical advice from your doctor:
- Vomiting Frequently
- Blood in Bowel Movements
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
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
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pelvic pain
It is common for women to experience some digestive issues during pregnancy, especially during the later stages. The change in hormones during pregnancy may be the cause of digestive issues for women. As the womb and fetus grow at a faster rate during the later stages of pregnancy, this causes pressure. As a result, this increase in pressure can lead to the development of digestive problems.
- Acid Reflux
- Belching or Gas
Stomach Churning Treatment
As stomach churning can be a result of a range of conditions, health issues, or even pregnancy, there are many ways to treat the symptoms. However, if your queasy stomach issues are ongoing, you should seek medical advice. For anyone who is suffering from short-term stomach gurgling, here are some ideas for what to take for an upset stomach:
- Reduce the Size of Your Portions
- Consume Probiotics
- Eat Toast and Crackers
- Avoid Foods that Trigger Symptoms
- Eat Broth
- Practice Stress Management
- Reduce Anxiety Levels
- Eliminate or Reduce Alcohol Intake
- Avoid Hard-to-Digest Foods
- Consume Less Caffeine
- Avoid Fatty and Fried Foods
- Soothe Your Heartburn with Antacids
- Improve Nausea with Ginger Tea or Peppermint Tea
Lastly, if you have any food intolerances, you should avoid consuming foods that trigger a negative digestive response. For instance, if you are dairy intolerant, you should avoid lactose. In this case, what’s good for an upset stomach is to avoid what your body cannot cope with.
Explained: The Link Between Stress and Stomach Problems
If you are experiencing stomach problems, then you may also be feeling stressed. When we experience high levels of stress, our gut also feels this stress. Stress and anxiety have been linked to chronic health problems such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. There is also a connection between stomach gurgling and bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. Further symptoms of stress induced stomach gurgling include:
- Bad Bacteria Grows, Good Bacteria Dies
- Leaky Gut
- Reduced production of Serotonin (the mood chemical)
If your stomach gurgling is a symptom of stress, there are many things you can do to change your behavior and response to stress. In general, most of us will often respond to stressful events in a poor way. We will wait and hope that the source of our stress goes away by itself, excessively shop, drink alcohol, treat ourselves to something we want, or gamble. As a result, we then experience more stress and get stuck in a vicious circle.
There are far better ways to handle stress, including:
- Practice Mindfulness
- Remove the Source of Stress
- List Ways to Solve the Problem (and work towards it)
Learn these 3 simple steps to boost digestive health in the morning from BIOHM Health:
To sum up, stomach noises, stomach rumbling after eating, and pain may mean several things depending on their frequency and severity. Generally, there are several potential answers to what causes stomach growling after eating so it’s best to be aware of what you eat and the conditions your body goes through. Provide your stomach with food for upset stomach, probiotic and, prebiotic supplements for better gut health.
How do you manage stomach disturbances? Are you experiencing persistent stomach growling after eating? Let’s talk about gut health in the comments below. Up Next: