Borborygmi- Familiar Feeling, Unfamiliar Word.Published on Friday, April 15, 2022 by
When the room goes silent but your stomach decides to speak…
I’m proud to say that the readers of this article won’t be the only ones to have learned something new today.
If you’d never heard the word Borborygmi – pronounced bor·br·ig·mai - before, you aren’t alone.
It happens to have French, Latin and Ancient Greek origins and I must admit I was surprised as I’ve been in a while to learn that the term simply refers to the familiar sensation of a rumbling or growling stomach.
And it’s a great thing for the most part, because a lack of movement/sound through the digestive system could indicate a serious problem!
But what’s really going on here?
Well, your stomach muscles are constantly contracting, relaxing and mixing their enzymatic contents together with the foods and beverages we consume – ultimately pushing various gasses and liquids contents within through the digestive tract.
This is a completely normal occurrence – in fact, for the vast majority of the time, it’s happening without you knowing (inaudible) and is generally no cause for concern.
Borborygmi may be more likely to occur in the case of an empty stomach when sounds can be amplified or when an above average amount of air has been swallowed (aerophagia) but could also occur with excessive frequency and annoying intensity, often as a result of or alongside a number of other more insidious factors.
- Excessive use of laxatives
- Nutrient malabsorption (as in conditions such as celiac)
- Excessive fermentation ( lactose intolerance, other dietary intolerances)
- Gut blockage/obstruction
- Excessive consumption of sugar alcohols ( often found in diet or sugar free products)
Excessive borborygmi caused by these factors will almost inevitably be paired with other unpleasant symptoms like gas & bloating, the resolution of which will depend on identifying and addressing the underlying cause.
Your healthcare provider is best suited to help with this and represents a logical starting point if you find your borborygmi to be compromising or interfering with your quality of life.
On a general level, avoiding going long periods of time without eating (empty stomach) and eating slowly and avoiding swallowing excessive gas are theoretically your best defense if there are no more serious concerns at play.
If you are someone to whom this occurs but you often find yourself in long classes or meetings, it may be advisable to pack a simple but impactful snack like a granola bar, fruit with nuts or even a yogurt cup sprinkled with some seeds.
Snacks to keep on hand to keep your stomach quiet:
Andy De SantisMPH, RD