Why Does Your Stomach Make Noises?


Our digestive systems seem to like making
noise — especially when we most desperately do not want them to be making strange gurgling
sounds. [gurgle] And I mean, even though stomach-growling is
probably one of the less offensive noises your guts can produce, it’s still not something
you want happening in the middle of a thoughtful pause during a job interview. Now, you’d think that simply eating right
before that important meeting would avoid that problem. Because if you’re not hungry,
your stomach isn’t going to growl, right? Well, it might help a little, but you could
still be in for some awkward moments. Because even though stomach rumbles do have something
to do with hunger, that’s not their immediate cause. Instead, those noises are caused by the movement
of air through your digestive tract. And even though that air isn’t actually escaping
your body, it does create some distinctive acoustic effects. Your digestive system moves things around
using muscle contractions. Mostly, it’s just trying to transport partially digested
food, but in the process, air gets shifted around, too, creating sound vibrations. In your stomach and small intestine, that
air makes a noise that’s sorta like when you blow bubbles through a straw in your drink
— except that the bubbles are either moving up toward your stomach or down toward your…
other end. Hunger can make it worse, too. Being hungry
causes extra muscle contractions to flare up, because your digestive system has to clear
out the remains of your last meal to prepare for the next round of food. When you eat, not only that does help calm
down those contractions, but having some food in there also helps muffle the sound a little. But in the end it doesn’t really matter
if you’re hungry or not because if your digestive system is active, it’s going to
make noise. And like the rest of your bodily functions, there’s not a whole lot you can
do about it. A big thanks to Sarah A, a supporter on Patreon,
for asking us this question! If you’d like to submit questions to be answered, or get
these Quick Questions videos a few days early, check out Patreon.com/SciShow.

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