Stomach Growling: Is It Normal Or Indicate An Underlying Medical Condition?

We’ve all experienced it at some point: that embarrassing rumble emanating sounds from our stomachs at the most inconvenient times. Stomach growling (borborygmi) refers to noises made within the small and large intestines, usually during digestion. Being hollow chambers, our intestines frequently produce noises during digestion that are similar to those made by water movement through pipes.

But is it just a normal part of digestion, or could it signal something more concerning? Let’s explore.

Normal Causes of Stomach Growling
-Digestion: Abdominal noises like stomach “growling” are typically associated with the digestive process, during the passage of food, liquids, digestive juices, and air through the intestines.
-Hunger: A stomach growling is frequently the body’s internal signal that it is hungry or needs food.
-Air swallowing: Swallowing air while eating, or drinking can lead to the accumulation of gas in the digestive system, causing rumbling sounds as the gas moves through the intestines.
-Muscle contractions: The intestinal walls contract and relax in a wave-like rhythm to mix and squeeze the food through the intestine. This phenomenon is known as peristalsis and causes abdominal noises like stomach growling.

Abnormal Causes of Stomach Growling
While stomach growling is typically harmless, it can sometimes indicate an underlying issue that requires medical attention. Here are some abnormal causes to be aware of:

-Digestive disorders: Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroenteritis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can disrupt normal digestive function and lead to increased intestinal activity and stomach growling.

(Note: Abdominal sounds are often classified as normal, hypoactive, and hyperactive)

1. Hypoactive sounds: These sounds have a different tone or they are quieter and less frequent than normal. This is a sign that the activity in the intestine has slowed down and usually happens while sleeping. Hypoactive bowel sounds may be a sign of reduced digestion activity, which could lead to constipation [1].
2. Hyperactive sounds: Hyperactive bowel sounds are louder noises than normal intestinal activity. These may occur after eating or when you have diarrhea. These hyperactive sounds may be indicative of an underlying health condition such as food allergies and intolerances, ulcerative colitis, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
-Gastrointestinal infections: Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites can irritate the lining of the digestive tract, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and increased bowel sounds.
-Gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach): This condition occurs when the muscles of the stomach are unable to properly contract and empty food into the small intestine. Stomach growling may be accompanied by bloating, nausea, and early satiety.
While occasional stomach growling is usually nothing to worry about, however, persistent or severe symptoms may require medical evaluation. Seek prompt medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms- persistent abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and change in bowel habits.

Consult With Our Expert With Just A Single Click
Click Here

Tips To Prevent Stomach Growling
While stomach growling is typically a normal part of the digestive process, there are occasions when these noises may cause discomfort or embarrassment. The following tips may help to reduce them:

1. Eat regularly: Keeping your stomach satisfied with regular meals can help prevent hunger-related stomach growling.

Tip: Aim to eat small, balanced meals throughout the day to maintain steady blood sugar levels and prevent excessive hunger.

2. Stay hydrated: Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day can help keep your digestive system functioning smoothly and may reduce stomach growling.

Tip: Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, or more if you are physically active or in a hot environment.

3. Chew food slowly: Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow air, leading to increased gas production and stomach growling. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly to aid digestion and minimize air swallowing.

4. Discover food intolerance: Intolerance to certain foods can increase gas and stomach growling. For example, lactose intolerance is the most prevalent one affecting approximately 68% of all people who have difficulty digesting lactose [2].

5. Practice portion control: Stomach growling may become more noticeable after eating big meals, especially meals rich in fats, sugars, and other foods that may be hard to digest.

6. Limit carbonated drinks: Drinks containing carbonation, such as soda and sparkling water, can introduce gas into the digestive system, potentially causing stomach growling [3].

Tip: Limit your intake of carbonated drinks and opt for still water or herbal tea instead.

7. Manage stress: Stress and anxiety can disrupt the normal functioning of your digestive system and contribute to stomach growling [4].

Tip: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, to promote relaxation and improve digestion.

While you may not be able to eliminate stomach growling, these strategies can help minimize it and promote overall digestive health. However, in case of an underlying medical condition, It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional if stomach growling persists, fails to improve, or is accompanied by other symptoms. Certain complications may pose serious health risks if left untreated.

Listening to your body and seeking medical advice when necessary is key to ensuring your safety and overall well-being.

(The article is written by Simran Suri, Assistant Team Lead, and  reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor )


1. Abdominal noises.International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Diseases.
2. Definition & Facts for Lactose Intolerance. National Institute Of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. [Updated 2018]. Available From:,world’s%20population%20has%20lactose%20malabsorption.&text=Lactose%20malabsorption%20is%20more%20common,most%20people%20have%20lactose%20malabsorption.
3. Carbonated beverages and gastrointestinal system: Between myth and reality. [Updated 2009]. Cuomo, Rosario & Sarnelli, Giovanni & Savarese.(2009). Carbonated beverages and gastrointestinal system: Between myth and reality. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases: NMCD. 19. 683-9. 10.1016/j.numecd.2009.03.020.
4. How to Calm an Anxious Stomach: The Brain-Gut Connection. Anxiety & Depression Association Of America. [Updated 2018].

Related Articles