GennyL72 Asked :

I have been suffering with an embarrassing problem for the past few months. My stomach rumbles loudly even if I have eaten and sometimes it even sounds like there is some bubbling. The sound is so loud that even others can hear it, even my colleagues sitting across from me. I am so stressed about this that I have actually been changed my eating patterns to reduce these episodes but nothing really helps for long.

The bubbling is worse if I am hungry and there is also the rumbling but it is not as loud. If I eat, the bubbling goes down quite a bit but the rumbling gets worse and sometimes it sounds lower down the abdomen. Also when I eat I find a little bit of cramps, its like contractions because it comes and goes like in labor but not that painful. I have tried eating small amounts throughout the day and this is the only way to find a balance between the rumbling and bubbling in the stomach but this does not stop these sounds altogether.

Apart from the stomach sounds, I have always suffered from constipation so that is nothing new – I sometimes go just 2 or 3 times in the week and at other times, I can go for as long as 5 days without a movement. I was thinking that it was an ulcer or something because I previously had this but the pain seems to get worse after I eat. There is some bloating but nothing abnormal but I feel a bit more ‘gassy’ these days. I have been passing quite a bit of wind from the bottom end but I think that it’s because I am stressed these days with work. Since I was a child I always seem to pass more gas when I am anxious or stressed.

Why am I experiencing these sounds? Do you have any advice for how I can minimize these loud stomach noises?

This question was posted under the Causes of Bloating and Gas article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.

Dr. Chris Answered :

Abdominal noises (borborygmi) emanating from the stomach and intestines are a normal occurrence and usually get worse when you are hungry. The sound itself is created by contractions of the stomach and intestine muscles, churning of gastric acid within the stomach and the movement of these digestive enzymes and the acid between the stomach and intestine. Apart from hunger, these abdominal noises can also be heard during digestion (after eating).

The symptoms you are experiencing may be indicative of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but only your doctor can make this diagnosis. It is likely that you will need to undergo further investigations – colonoscopy, endoscopy, blood and stool tests. These tests should be conducted after a clinical evaluation by a gastroenterologist. There is also the possibility that the bubbling and rumbling sounds are due to increased gastric acid production and you should take note of any heartburn symptoms or regurgitation, all part of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and report it to your doctor.

After eating, your gastrointestinal tract has to do more work. More acid is produced, more muscle contractions are needed to churn the food in the stomach and push it down the gut. The cramps that you are experiencing are most likely intestinal spasms, which is another strong indicator of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS used to be called spastic colon). Constipation and excessive gas are common complaints in IBS. While many of these symptoms also occur in malabsorption syndromes, you should have noticed diarrhea and loss of weight if this was the cause.

Stress is an important consideration here. It can increase gastric acid production, stimulate gastric and intestinal contractions and if you are suffering with IBS, then symptoms like gas, bloating and constipation will be aggravated. Apart from work stress, your anxiety about this condition could further exacerbate your symptoms.

Once your doctor completes the necessary investigation, you will be put on medication for the condition that has been diagnosed. This should help ease your symptoms. It is important to see your doctor as soon as possible to exclude more serious conditions and taking note of any trigger factors can be useful for your doctor to make a quick diagnosis.

Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on June 23, 2010