If asked why their stomach is growling, many people will answer, “Because I’m hungry!” However, this is a bit of a myth. Your stomach may make noises when you’re hungry and there’s no food in your belly, but it can also grumble when you’re not hungry and you’re full.
The growling might not even be coming from your stomach at all, but from your small intestine. Often, when your stomach (or bowel) makes noises, technically known as “borborygmi,” you may not hear them at all.
The sounds are loudest when your stomach is empty, which is why they are often associated with hunger.
The rumbling sound in the stomach is the result of the muscle contraction of the intestinal wall and the presence of fluid and gas. This is a perfectly normal feature that occurs most of the day.
Your bowel tends to quiet down when you sleep, but the complete absence of bowel sounds could actually be a sign of a medical emergency, especially if it’s accompanied by severe abdominal pain.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), here’s what’s really causing your tummy to grow:1
“In the gut, ingested fluids and solids are mixed with approximately eight liters (two gallons) of enzyme-rich fluid secreted daily, most of which is then absorbed. However, the fluid moves silently through the ducts – Only when there is air in the pipe, we can hear the sound of the pipe.
In the gut, the ever-present gas comes from swallowed air and the release of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and other gases from bacterial fermentation of undigested food in the lower gut. A doctor or nurse can use a stethoscope to hear the characteristic sounds even if the owner of the gut is inaudible.
While the noisy movement of liquids and gases occurs at all levels, the most audible sound comes from the stomach. Whether you can hear it or not, in the absence of other obvious symptoms, bowel sounds are normal and have no medical significance. “