Stomach rumble

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A doctor's listening to a patient's bowel sounds using a stethoscope

A stomach rumble, also known as a bowel sound or peristaltic sound, is a rumbling, growling or gurgling noise produced by movement of the contents of the gastro-intestinal tract as they are propelled through the small intestine by a series of muscle contractions called peristalsis.[1] A doctor can listen to these intestinal noises with a stethoscope but they may be loud enough to be heard with bare ears and are known as stomach rumble or borborygmus (pronounced /ˌbɔrbəˈrɪɡməs/; plural borborygmi) as the fluid and gas moves forward in the intestines (in the vicinity of but not actually within the stomach). The lack of bowel sounds is indicative of ileus, intestinal obstruction, or some other serious pathology.


The scientific name borborygmus is related to the 16th-century French word borborygme, itself from Latin, ultimately from Ancient Greek βορβορυγμός (borborygmós). The Greeks probably onomatopoetically coined the word.[citation needed]

Other causes[edit]

Other causes of stomach rumbles:

Diseases and conditions[edit]

Diseases/conditionsPossible Prescribed Treatments
Celiac diseaseLifelong gluten-free diet, avoid anything containing wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats
ColitisIf caused by inflammation, it is treated with medicine. If caused by infection, it is treated with an antiprotozoal agent. If caused by lack of blood flow, it is treated with a liquid diet and antibiotics.

If symptoms are minimal, treat by:

  • Getting plenty of rest.
  • Using a heat pad while sleeping.
  • Taking pain medication.
  • Drinking only liquids for a few days, then build up slowly with harder liquid, and eventually solid food.

Avoid foods such as beans and peas along with coarse grains and dried fruits. Limiting consumption of coffee, tea, and alcohol is recommended.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)Regular exercise and improved sleep habits can help relieve symptoms. Although IBS differs from person to person, dieting helps.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine.
  • Avoid large meals.
  • Increase the consumption of fiber throughout the day (helps constipation, but bloating may be an issue).

Nonmedical usage[edit]

The word borborygmic has been used in literature to describe noisy plumbing. In Ada, Vladimir Nabokov wrote: "All the toilets and waterpipes in the house had been suddenly seized with borborygmic convulsions". In A Long Way Down (New York: Harper, 1959, p. 54), Elizabeth Fenwick wrote: "The room was very quiet, except for its borborygmic old radiator".[5] Graham Greene's short story "Alas, Poor Maling" tells the tale of a luckless individual whose borborygmus takes the form of imitating noises that he has recently heard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Toothman, Jessika. "Causes of Stomach Growling". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Celiac disease - sprue". A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. January 20, 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Colitis". A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. October 16, 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Diverticulitis". A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. April 16, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Borborygmus". World Wide Words. 1998-10-12. Retrieved 2013-10-26.