Stomach rumble
Other namesborborygmus
A doctor listening to a patient's bowel sounds using a stethoscope applied to the patient's abdomen

A stomach rumble, also known as a bowel sound, peristaltic sound, abdominal sound, bubble gut or borborygmus (pronounced /ˌbɔːrbəˈrɪɡməs/; plural borborygmi), is a rumbling, growling or gurgling noise produced by movement of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract as they are propelled through the small intestine by a series of muscle contractions called peristalsis.[1] A trained healthcare provider can listen to these intestinal noises with a stethoscope, but they may be audible enough to be heard with the naked ear as the fluid and gas move 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 Greek term is probably onomatopoetic in origin.

Other causes

Other causes of stomach rumbles:

Diseases and conditions

Diseases/conditions Possible Prescribed Treatments
Celiac disease Lifelong gluten-free diet, avoid anything containing wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats
Colitis If 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

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".[6] Graham Greene's short story "Alas, Poor Maling" tells the tale of a luckless individual whose borborygmus takes the form of irritating noises that he has recently heard.

The word borborygmus has also been used in journalism to describe political turbulence. In an article in The Atlantic, Graeme Wood[7] used the word to describe the effects of mass refugee migration into Europe: "Central Europe had to digest a massive refugee flow from Syria and Afghanistan, and the resulting borborygmus upended European politics and enabled a populist wave that has yet to crest."

See also


  1. ^ a b Toothman, Jessika (30 April 2008). "Causes of Stomach Growling". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  2. ^ Govender, Serusha. "Why Does My Stomach Growl?". WebMD. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  3. ^ "Celiac disease - sprue". A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. January 20, 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Colitis". A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. October 16, 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Diverticulitis". A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. April 16, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Borborygmus". World Wide Words. 1998-10-12. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  7. ^ Wood, Graeme (2020-11-23). "Biden's Sleepily Reassuring Appointments". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-11-24.