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Whether gurgling in the belly, grumbling, bubbling or growling - it is completely normal for the stomach and intestines to make noise. If these occur more frequently than usual and intensified and / or other symptoms appear, the abdominal gurgling can also be an indication of diseases of the digestive organs.
How do stomach and intestinal noises occur?
The gastrointestinal tract is a kind of tube that transports the chyme through sagging and contracting. This is called "peristalsis". Both gas and liquid are involved in this process, which leads to noises such as gurgling, bubbling or grumbling. This is usually completely normal. As soon as digestion has started, there are noises that are normally not heard from outside.
The small intestine in particular works around the clock. If nothing is being digested, the intestine cleanses itself. This is colloquially referred to as "stomach growl". From the small intestine, the food reaches the large intestine. This processes the chyme with the healthy intestinal bacteria. This also does not run without noise. A chuckle can be heard, which gets louder the more air there is.
But the air is also something completely normal. We take this into account when eating and drinking - and the faster we eat, the more so. Even more air or gas is created when high-fiber food gets into the intestine. Chyme meets air and this makes the stomach or intestinal noise.
Going to the doctor with a guckle in your stomach?
As previously mentioned, stomach and bowel sounds are something completely normal and important. However, if the gurgling is unusually loud and / or occurs very frequently, the cause should be investigated. After an anamnesis, the doctor will listen to the intestine with a stethoscope (auscultation) and may order further examinations (see “Treatment for gucklings in the abdomen”).
Chuckling in the stomach - causes
The causes of loud gurgling and other noises in the stomach and intestines are diverse. They can be related to the diet, but can also indicate an illness. Possible diseases that can be considered here are:
- Gastrointestinal infections,
- Food intolerance,
- Irritable bowel,
- and worst case colon cancer.
With the causes mentioned, further symptoms usually appear. In the following sections, you will find out what the specific signs of the disease are.
Gastrointestinal infections are associated with:
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Stomach pain,
- and sometimes with a loud gurgling in the stomach.
Food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, lead to loud intestinal noises due to strong gas formation in the intestine. In addition - depending on the severity - there is diarrhea, constipation, intestinal cramps, headache and nausea.
In the case of lactose intolerance, those affected suffer from a lack of the enzyme lactase, which is said to break down the milk sugar in the body. As a result, bacteria produce gas and acids in the intestine, which can lead to the symptoms mentioned or even to a gurgling in the stomach.
The so-called irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the intestine, which means that this is a disease with no proven organic cause. It is also known as a so-called exclusion diagnosis. However, the complaints associated with this are no less stressful. This includes:
- Diarrhea or constipation,
- Stomach pain,
- frequent urge to stool,
- vegetative overexcitement,
- Feeling of fullness
- and gurgling in the stomach.
“Malabsorption” is a digestive disorder in which only the absorption of the pre-digested food components is disturbed. The reason for this is damage to the intestinal surface. The body cannot adequately absorb the food components, which leads to deficiency symptoms in the long run. Typical symptoms are:
- Stomach pain,
- malodorous chair,
- Weight loss,
- Performance reduction,
- soft or watery stool
- and stomach or bowel sounds.
Illnesses that can be associated with malabsorption include chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
Slight gurgling in the stomach is, as already mentioned, usually harmless and completely fine. Unfortunately, in the worst case, this can also occur in connection with colon cancer. However, there are other symptoms associated with this clinical picture. Colon cancer, like most cancers, does not cause acute symptoms in the early stages, but there are certain signs and warning signs. These include:
- Alternation of constipation and diarrhea,
- visible blood in the stool or mucus,
- Pencil chair (due to narrowing),
- malodorous chair,
- Painful bowel movements,
- frequent cramping abdominal pain
- and recurring loud bowel sounds and bloating.
All of this does not have to mean anything serious - however, you should consult a doctor promptly for the symptoms mentioned to have them medically clarified.
Treatment for gurgling in the abdomen
Depending on the causal disease associated with gurgling in the abdomen, treatment is the first priority. The diagnosis is made with the help of various examinations. After a detailed medical history, the doctor listens to the stomach. This is usually followed by gastrointestinal surgery.
Imaging methods such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be necessary. A blood test also shows the signs of inflammation. For example, if you are suspected of lactose or fructose intolerance, a breath gas analysis is carried out together with a blood sugar test.
What you can do yourself
Harmless gurgling in the belly, which has no organic cause, is harmless, but quite annoying for many sufferers. You are in a meeting or in a place where there is complete calm and suddenly this is disturbed by the loud gurgling of your stomach - how uncomfortable. Although this is absolutely natural and you really can't do anything about it at this moment. Perhaps the following tips will help you to prevent such an embarrassing moment from happening again.
Eating slowly and chewing consciously is essential. The slower you eat, the less air you swallow. And, as already described, too much can lead to bloating and gurgling in the stomach. Nutrition is also important. Bloating may not be tolerated so well. Avoid bloating foods if you want to prevent uncomfortable stomach and bowel sounds. These include:
- Onions, garlic, cabbage, mushrooms, beans, lentils,
- unripe fruit, figs and berries,
- freshly baked bread and whole grain bread,
- fatty cheese and whole milk,
- fried potato products,
- oily fish and oily sausages,
Eating a bowl of salad in the evening can force the intestines to perform at their best and lead to fermentation. These, in turn, can be felt with intestinal noise and bloated stomach. In addition, the liver has to process the fermentation substances, so it gets additional work.
Vegetables in the evening are best blanched or (as is common in the south) fried in a little oil. Alcohol and fruit juices should also be avoided. It's best to drink herbal tea and still water. Sweeteners, which are often found in drinks, can also upset the digestion. Be careful not to irritate your stomach - have a bite to eat in the morning before you take your first sip of coffee. Avoid cold drinks.
Chewing gum is also harmful to the stomach. When chewing, more air is swallowed and the increased saliva production stimulates the stomach to become more peristalsis. All of this can cause noise.
Home remedies for gurgling in the abdomen
If you suffer from flatulence in addition to gurgling, fennel tea can provide relief. Or a combination of fennel, coriander, caraway and anise.
These four seeds can be mixed in equal parts in the pharmacy or a good herbal house and lightly toasted. For a large cup you need a teaspoon full and brew it with boiling water. The tea is ready after eight to ten minutes. It is best to drink a cup in small sips three times a day after meals.
Another home remedy is peppermint essential oil or caraway oil. A few drops of it, mixed with a little almond or olive oil, serve as a massage oil. The stomach is massaged clockwise - this relaxes the intestine and relieves the gurgling. What is equally good is warmth in the form of a hot water bottle, a cherry stone pillow or a spelled sachet. Exercise regularly, which also helps to improve digestion and reduce bowel noise.
From the field of Schüßler salts, salt number seven (Magnesium phosphoricum) is often recommended, as it is said to have a relaxing effect on cramps and colic in the hollow organs (intestine, stomach, bladder, gallbladder). If you want to try the salt, you can do this in the form of the so-called hot sieves, for example. To do this, put 10 tablets of Schüssler Salt No. 7 in a large cup and pour this with boiled water. Then the drink is stirred with a plastic spoon and sipped as hot as possible.
In summary, it can be said that a gurgling in the abdomen, which is very loud and annoying and may be accompanied by other symptoms, should be clarified by the doctor. There may be an illness that has not yet been discovered but needs treatment. (sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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