Science Questions

Whatís happening when your stomach rumbles?

Sun, 27th Jul 2008

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Scoo, The Naked Scientists Forum asked:

Whatís happening when your stomach rumbles?


Helen -  I think my favourite thing for rumbling stomachs is the official word for it.

Chris-  Borborygmy.

Helen -  Borborygmy, thatís right!  Do you know where it comes from?  Itís one of those words where you think it must have some clever meaning but apparently the Greeks came up with it.  Itís just onomatopoeic.  Itís supposed sound like the sound of your stomach rumbling!

Itís all about your intestines being a bit of a long tube between your mouth and your bottom, if you like.  You have these waves of contraction that are trying to push food down.  Itís called peristalsis that pushes food through the system into your stomach, through your intestines.  It does this all the time and when itís full of food thereís really no noise as it gets absorbed by the food.  When your stomachís empty or thereís a gas bubble trying to make its way through the system it tends to resound a bit and make those kind of funny noises.  Thatís basically whatís going on.  Itís happening all the time but usually you donít hear it.


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skoo asked the Naked Scientists: Hi Chris, I'm a fairly recent convert to your podcast. Unfortunately I don't get to tune in live, but I thought I'd fire off a quick question anyways. It was inspired just a moment ago by a(n apparently) hungry colleague of mine. What is actually happening inside when our tummies rumble? How is the sound produced, and is there a way to prevent the sound - aside from eating to appease the beast within? Regards, Mr Skoo What do you think? skoo , Fri, 11th Jul 2008

Hi Mr Skoo,

I found this just for you from those nice people at Wikipedia:

neilep, Fri, 11th Jul 2008

But then why does my stomach rumble with gas if I've not eaten then there is nothing to cause it?
rosalind dna, Wed, 30th Jul 2008

i m having this problem and nobody could solve it until there any way that i can stop my stomach making noises in high volume during my classes :-\ i m dealing with this since last 2 semesters  :( and it is so embarrassing  :-[ naina121, Wed, 2nd Jan 2013

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