What's happening when your stomach rumbles?

27 July 2008

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Question

What’s happening when your stomach rumbles?

Answer

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

Chris- Borborygmy. Helen - Borborygmy, that's right! Do you know where it comes from? It's one of those words where you think it must have some clever meaning but apparently the Greeks came up with it. It's just onomatopoeic. It's supposed sound like the sound of your stomach rumbling! It's 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. It's called peristalsis that pushes food through the system into your stomach, through your intestines. It does this all the time and when it's full of food there's really no noise as it gets absorbed by the food. When your stomach's empty or there's a gas bubble trying to make its way through the system it tends to resound a bit and make those kind of funny noises. That's basically what's going on. It's happening all the time but usually you don't hear it.

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