Causes of Borborygmi (Stomach Noises)

Excessive stomach noises may stem from diarrhea or other intestinal issues

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Borborygmi describes the sounds that come from your gastrointestinal (GI) tract (the pathway from your mouth to your anus). While it's often simply called "stomach growling" or "stomach rumbling," these sounds can come from either the stomach or the small or large intestine.

The stomach growls due to peristalsis, or the digestive process of pushing food and fluid through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This process produces sounds that are called borborygmi.

Borborygmi can occur at any time. The sounds are usually most noticeable when you're hungry. You hear them when you have gas or food moving through your digestive system.

An increase in borborygmi is known as hyperactive bowel sounds. This is caused by increased intestinal activity, either on its own (after eating a meal) or because of an underlying condition.

Conditions that can cause hyperactive bowel sounds include Crohn's disease, food intolerances, diarrhea, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, infectious enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), and ulcerative colitis.

This article discusses borborygmi. It explains what causes stomach growling, when borborygmi are normal, and when it's not.

A female doctor examining a female patient during her home visit
chee gin tan / Getty Images

What Causes Borborygmi?

Stomach noises associated with borborygmi can be caused by normal digestion. When accompanied by pain and other symptoms, it may indicate a problem. Here is a look at different causes of borborygmi.


Borborygmi can happen when you have gas in your stomach. Gas is normal and a result of intestinal bacteria processing foods that you can't digest. This includes food that contains carbohydrates. You may even experience borborygmi when you swallow too much air.

The amount of gas you have can change from day to day. Certain conditions can make it hard for some people to digest foods like dairy or wheat, which can lead to more gas and diarrhea—and the sounds that go along with them.

While it makes sense that the digestive process could be noisy, you may actually notice borborygmi more when it has been a while since you've eaten. Because your intestines are empty, there's less matter in your digestive system to muffle any noise.

And just as the muscles in your intestines contract when processing food, they're still at work if it's been a while since you've eaten something. This causes the same noisy results.


You may experience more borborygmi when you have diarrhea since there's an increased amount of fluids and gas in your intestines.

Food Intolerances

Borborygmi may also be a sign of food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance. Stomach noises from food intolerances are often accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flatulence.

People with food intolerances often lack specific enzymes needed to digest certain foods. For example, people with lactose intolerance do not produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks up lactose.

As a result, they aren't able to completely digest lactose, a sugar present in milk. Instead, the lactose travels into the large intestine, where it is partially broken down into gas and acid. This is what causes the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Other food intolerances that may contribute to borborygmi include sugar alcohols, monosaccharides like fructose, and disaccharides such as maltose, sucrose, and lactose. 


An increase in borborygmi can also be caused by an infection, such as viral gastritis (the stomach flu), or food poisoning, such as salmonella. E. coli, or Campylobacter. Other signs of intestinal infections include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes fever.

Celiac Disease

Borborygmi may also occur in people with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten, a protein in wheat and other grains. 

In people with celiac disease, borborygmi may happen alongside other symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating. 


People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may also report borborygmi. This is usually accompanied by symptoms like stomach pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation.

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that causes diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of both. IBS can be caused by food intolerances or sensitivities, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a bacterial infection in the digestive tract, or mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and somatic symptom disorder. 

IBD is an umbrella term for the inflammatory bowel conditions Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD can be caused by an autoimmune disease, genetic conditions, or environmental factors.

Bowel Obstruction

Borborygmi can also occur when you have a bowel obstruction. This is where solid foods and liquids are trying to pass through a narrowed or blocked part of the intestine.

A bowel obstruction can cause very loud bowel sounds along with severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constrictions, an inability to pass gas from the anus, and a general feeling of discomfort or sickness.  


Click Play to Learn More About Borborygmi

This video has been medically reviewed by Rochelle Collins, DO.

Tips for Reducing Borborygmi

It's important to note that most of the time, borborygmi are normal. They simply mean the intestines are working. There's no reason to worry about them unless the sounds and accompanying gas are bothering you or they occur alongside other symptoms.

To make your stomach less noisy, try these dietary changes:

  • Avoid carbonated beverages
  • Avoid gassy foods, including beans and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, to name a few), which can trigger stomach rumbling and gas.
  • Cut down on certain sugars in your diet, particularly fructose and sorbitol (found in fruits and used as artificial sweeteners)
  • Eat less acidic foods (such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and coffee) may also help reduce embarrassing tummy noises

Drinking enough water, eating slowly, eating regularly (keeping snacks on hand), and avoiding overeating can also help to decrease borborygmi.


Borborygmi are the sounds that come from your GI tract. These rumbling or growling noises are a normal part of the digestion process. You can sometimes hear them as food and fluid are pushed through your GI tract.

If the noises bother you, think about changing your diet. For example, avoiding gassy foods or carbonated beverages can help. When a doctor can't hear the sounds with a stethoscope, it could signal a problem with your GI tract, especially if you have other symptoms like pain or bleeding.

While borborygmi are usually normal and natural, and even a sign of proper intestinal function, loud stomach noises can be embarrassing. When yours interrupts at an awkward moment, try to keep in mind that this happens to everyone. Most people will understand.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.