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Bowel sounds or abdominal sounds and stomach noises are the sounds produced by the movement of our gastrointestinal tract during the process of digestion. Mild to moderate bowel sounds are quite normal, especially after meals.

Loud bowel sounds or growling can cause significant social problems. If the growling is associated with other symptoms, it may be a manifestation of an underlying disease and should be managed accordingly.

There are many causes of loud bowel sounds. Most of these causes are harmless and usually do not require any significant medical intervention but if you have associated symptoms in addition to loud bowel sounds, you should consult your doctor to rule out some conditions.

What Causes Bowel Sounds?

The possible causes of stomach noises and loud bowel or abdominal sounds are as follows.

An empty stomach: It is a very common cause of abdominal sounds and almost every one of us has experienced these noises. These sounds become more frequent when you are hungry. You have to make some lifestyle changes if that’s the case; decrease the interval between meals, increase your number of meals per day.

Constipation: Constipation means decreased frequency of stools, hard stools, or difficult evacuation of stools. If you have constipation, your bowel wall puts in extra effort to push the stool out, and this may be manifested as loud bowel sounds. You should start consuming a high fiber diet and use laxatives to relieve constipation. If the problem persists, contact your doctor.

Gas: Sounds produced by gas or flatulence are different from bowel sounds. If you have a gas problem, you should modify your diet and avoid gas-producing food. You can also take medication to decrease the gas production in your gut.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: If you have persistent watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, sudden weight loss, vomiting, nausea, bloating along with abnormal bowel sounds for a few months, you may be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. It’s important to consult your doctor for a complete evaluation if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Intestinal Obstruction: Partial or complete obstruction of the bowel can affect bowel sounds. Intestinal obstruction is also associated with a decreased stool output or even a total halt of bowel moevements.

Ulcers: Stomach or duodenal ulcers interfere with the normal function and movements of the gut during digestion. Hence, it can result in abnormal bowel sounds. Symptoms associated with peptic ulcer include burning sensation and pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, bloating, indigestion and vomiting.

What To Do?

Observe and evaluate these sounds carefully and also look for any associated symptoms. If the abnormal bowel or abdominal sounds are the only symptom you have, you should make some lifestyle changes;

  • Avoid gas producing foods.
  • Eat a high fiber diet if you are constipated.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Make a schedule for your meals. It’s better to eat four smaller meals than to have two bigger meals per day.
If the symptoms persist even after these lifestyle changes or if you have the associated symptoms mentioned above, then you should contact your doctor because you may have an underlying disease.

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