What It Really Means When Your Stomach Gurgles

It can happen at the most inopportune (and quietest) moments. Wherever it may be, many of us have experienced that stomach gurgling noise. Other than being slightly embarrassing, is stomach gurgling a sign of anything going awry?

The answer to that question can vary, but most likely, it doesn't necessarily mean there is anything concerning going on. These digestive sounds, called borborygmi, occur when food, liquids, and gas move throughout your stomach and intestine (via Healthgrades). These contractions in your stomach cause acids to move around more when you're hungry, causing those gurgling noises.

Gurgling also occurs after you eat, as your stomach and intestines mix food with enzymes to break it down into nutrients for your body, moving the digested food through the intestines. This is all a normal digestive process. That gurgling can also happen when you don't allow your body to achieve the "rest and digest," or parasympathetic state — a necessity for good digestion (via Parsley Health). 

There are times where gurgling could be a sign you should see your doctor. Experts say if you haven't eaten within the last several hours and your gurgling is accompanied by constipation, diarrhea, excess gas, foul-smelling stool, or pain, then you want to monitor your symptoms, seeking medical attention if they get worse.

When to seek medical attention for a gurgling stomach

A gurgling stomach could be a sign of some health conditions like an infection, food intolerance, celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease, medication side effects, or small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, according to Parsley Health. You will want to get a full examination from your doctor to be properly diagnosed for treatment.

You may be wondering if there is anything you can do simply to stop the stomach noise. Drinking water, eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, and eating at a slower pace can be helpful for digestion (via Medical News Today). You may also want to limit your intake of sugar, alcohol, and acidic foods like coffee, as well as foods that are notorious for making you gassy. Some of these include beans; vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, or Brussel sprouts; and sodas.

All in all, a gurgling stomach can just be your body's way of notifying you it is digesting. But if you have any concerns, you should see your healthcare provider.