If Your Stomach Grumbles, This Is What It Really Means

Why does my stomach grumble when I'm hungry? This registered nurse has a simple explanation.

You’ve been working all morning without a second thought—until that familiar rumbling starts. Once that unmistakable grumble begins in your stomach, there’s no use in trying to fight it. Suddenly your stomach is the boss, and a lunch break is no longer optional. So what makes your stomach grumble? And what does that noise really mean?

Why Does My Stomach Grumble?

Stomach grumbling, known as borborygmus, is the sound of gas or food particles moving through your digestive tract.

When you eat, your intestines move food and liquid along by contracting and relaxing, a process known as peristalsis. Once the food has been digested, your intestines continue to move air along your digestive tract, creating rumbling sounds.

Stomach grumbles simply mean that you haven’t eaten in a while. Your intestines are always working to move food and air through your body. You’re more likely to hear sounds when you’re hungry because there’s no food in the intestines to muffle the noise.

So there you have it—when you hear stomach grumbles, it just means that there is no food being digested. If you feel hungry, go ahead and enjoy a meal or snack, but just because your stomach is making its presence known does not mean that your body needs a large meal. Listen to your hunger, and eat what you need to feel satisfied.

Once you eat something, you’ll notice the sounds start to quiet down. Even just a quick snack or small meal could be enough to quiet your gurgles.

It’s important to note that a constant rumbling sound may mean that you’re experiencing a chronic gastrointestinal condition such as irritable bowel syndrome. If you also notice frequent bloating, constipation or diarrhea along with the gurgling sound, talk with your doctor.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.