Borborygmus: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Recommendations

We are talking about the sounds that gases produce through the intestines.

Rumbling is the term applied to rumbling noises of varying quality and intensity produced by peristaltic movements of the intestine that propel mixed gaseous and liquid contents.

So-called bowel sounds or bowel sounds seem louder to those who experience them. However, most of these noises are inaudible. Many people are not aware of them.

When awake, the intestines move rhythmically as the walls contract and relax to mix food with secretions and move them jerkily.

They can occur in perfectly normal people, especially when the alimentary canal is relatively empty, for example when a meal is late, and can occur as a result of an intake of air.

Absence of bowel sounds

When these regular sounds are missing from the digestive tract, it is called “no bowel sounds.”

If the stomach and intestines are silent, it could indicate that there is a problem in the digestive tract, and some tests may need to be done to determine if there is something wrong.

This is especially the case if there are other symptoms, such as abdominal pain or rectal bleeding, as it could be a very serious condition that requires immediate treatment.

Causes of rumbling

The rumbling, occur due to three conditions:

  • Muscle contraction of the intestinal wall.
  • The presence within the intestines of fluid.
  • The presence of gas within the intestines.

Digestion and rumbling

The stomach and intestines are hollow organs that consist mainly of muscle. Muscles are important for digesting food.

The different actions of the muscles can cause food to be ground, mixed, stored and transported throughout the intestine and expelled.

Inside the intestines, ingested liquids and solids mix with the daily secretion of approximately eight liters of enzyme-rich fluid, most of which is subsequently absorbed.

However, the fluid that moves through a tube is silent: only when there is air do we hear the noises.

In the intestine, ever-present gases originate from ingested air and the release of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and other gases by bacterial fermentation of undigested food in the lower intestine.

As part of the digestion process, the stomach and intestines contain a mixture of digesting food, liquids, and gases.

As the muscles of the stomach and intestines contract and squeeze their contents, the contents move. It is the movement of food, liquid and, in particular, gas that gives rise to rumbling.

Because food, liquid, and gas are often present in the intestines after a meal, this is the time when bowel movements most often appear.

We can also be more aware of them at night while lying in bed when all is quiet.

Butterflies as a symptom

In general, stomach noises are not necessarily a sign of a medical problem.

They are only produced by gases that “roll” through the stomach and intestines when they do their normal activities of contracting and moving food and air into the colon and rectum.

However, obviously, these noises can sometimes be distressing or socially embarrassing, and may require treatment and a visit to your doctor as a result.

Rumbling can be prominent in some abnormal conditions.

Among the problems that can most often be due to rumbling we find a physical obstruction, food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome, some foods and medications

They can be due to excessive snack intake or they can complicate the excessive fermentation within the intestine that can occur in steatorrhea.

In other cases, they may be due to powerful peristaltic waves from a bowel that is hypertrophied and dilated above a slowly developing large bowel obstruction.

Therefore, they can occur when there is a physical obstruction of the intestine that blocks the transport of digestion food, for example, by a tumor.

Due to the blockage, the muscle behind the blockage contracts more forcefully and often tries to overcome the blockage. This can lead to a stronger rumbling.

However, unlike normal rumbling, rumbling associated with obstruction will generally be accompanied by progressive constipation, colicky abdominal pain, and bloating.

If the obstruction is not relieved, the muscle eventually tires and stops contracting. The cramps stop, gas and fluid continue to build up behind the obstruction, and the abdomen swells.

Borborygmus can be caused by a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

This can be due to food intolerances that cause a greater fermentation of the bacterial flora (legumes, vegetables, foods rich in sugars, starches and fats).

In this case, the problem occurs concomitantly with abdominal cramps, flatulence and even diarrhea;

In this condition, gas-producing bacteria increase in number in the small intestine and produce abnormally large amounts of gas.

The increased amount of gas and possibly stronger contractions of the intestinal muscles caused by further distention of the intestine from the gas, results in stronger irritable bowel syndrome.

Bacterial overgrowth often leads to increased flatulence and even bloating or bloating.

An unbalanced diet, such as a diet that is too high in sugar or meals that are too large, often cause rumbling.

Some specific medications, such as acarbose, can make it difficult to absorb certain nutrients and cause rumbling.

Some people with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, which is a complex problem that includes frequent gurgling symptoms, more gas may occur, and gas can often be quite audible.


While rarely of medical significance, for some a rumbling can be a source of embarrassment.

The occasional “peristaltic rush” can be heard as intestinal contents move some distance.

It is important to separate the rumbling from other gaseous phenomena such as belching, bloating and the passage of intestinal gas (flatus). While these can occur in the same person, they are not causally related.

Even when inaudible to the individual, characteristic sounds can be heard by a physician using a stethoscope.

While the noisy movement of liquid and gas occurs at all levels, the most audible sounds originate in the stomach.

Treatment and recommendations

Sometimes there is no explanation for a prominent rumbling, but if they continue to be a problem for you, despite trying some basic things, such as a preparation for digestive health or eliminating certain foods, such as gluten or lactose, it is recommended to consult the gastroenterologist.

Some cases of irritable bowel syndrome are very sensitive to stress reduction and physical exercise. These could be a strategy to try.

Additionally, some people with irritable bowel syndrome or chronic gas find that they must undertake a more thorough food elimination strategy, methodically seeking out the foods that produce their symptoms.

For example, some people are very intolerant to foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, potatoes, or legumes like beans.

The fatty acids that are released from the digestion of fat and oils in the intestine are powerful blockers of intestinal contractions. Olive oil reduces rumbling by reducing the force of intestinal contractions.

Avoid the consumption of chewing gum that, through chewing, sends stimulating signals to the intestine, which begins to move, producing in some cases annoying noises in the stomach.

It is also important to drink at least 1.5 liters of drinks a day. Liquids support the digestive system in the exercise of its functions, facilitating intestinal work and reducing fermentation.

Chewing food for longer is helpful, as the process of mixing solid and liquid items will produce less gas.

Avoiding overeating and eating a balanced diet, a change in diet to avoid sugars, carbonated foods, or carbonated drinks could help.

Medications such as probiotics, organic charcoal, and simethicone capsules are prescribed for the relief of this symptom.

By following these small steps, and following treatment for the conditions that cause them, you can overcome the problem and return the rumbling to its physiological frequency.