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Canberra Today 8°/9° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Problems with borborygmus and peristalsis? 

Rumbling, growling or gurgling noises come from the stomach or small intestines. The noises are commonly linked to hunger.

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind 

The answer is blowin’ in the wind. 

–Bob Dylan 

HAVING a noisy tum can be embarrassing, particularly when ambient noise levels are low. 

Clive Williams.

Worst-case scenarios are having it happen at a critical business meeting, job interview, while hiding during an active shooter/terrorist incident, or during close personal encounters with other humans. 

I asked Siri about rumbling tummies. She obviously had not encountered the problem because she referred me to “Rumble” which, I discovered, is a Canadian rival to YouTube. 

The rumbling, growling or gurgling noises come from the stomach or small intestines. The noises are commonly linked to hunger because they’re typically louder when the stomach or intestines are empty. That’s because, without contents in them, the stomach organs don’t muffle the noises as well. 

According to the Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, when you’re hungry, hormone-like substances in the brain activate the desire to eat, which then sends signals to the intestines and stomach. As a result, the muscles in your digestive system contract and cause these noises. The rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines is called “borborygmus”. 

After you’ve eaten, your abdomen may still rumble or growl as your intestines process food, liquids, digestive juices and air. 

The walls of the gastrointestinal tract are mostly made up of muscles. They contract to mix and squeeze the contents through your intestines so it can be digested and moved on for disposal. This process is called “peristalsis”. 

Peristalsis is generally responsible for the rumbling sound you hear after eating. It can occur several hours after eating and even at night when you’re trying to sleep. 

Non-hungry stomach noise can also be a result of anxiety or stress. If you experience intestinal noises at the same time as symptoms such as  bloat, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation, you could be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, intestinal blockage, or intestinal infection. 

However, don’t panic, if your stomach rumbles occasionally around lunchtime or after a big meal, it’s a good sign – that your digestive system is working as it should. It’s only if there seems to be a big change around the volume and occurrence, or there are troubling concurrent issues that you might consider a trip to your doctor. 

On a lighter note. A young doctor moves to a country town to replace a GP who is retiring. The older man invites the young doctor to accompany him on his rounds. 

At the first house a widower complains: “I’ve been suffering from a rumbling stomach and the runs.” 

The older doctor says: “Well, you’ve probably been overdoing the fresh fruit. Why not cut back and see if that helps?” 

As they leave, the younger doctor says: “How did you come to that diagnosis?” 

“Well, you noticed I dropped my stethoscope on the floor in there? When I bent down to pick it up, I noticed half a dozen banana skins and orange peels in the waste bin.” 

The younger doctor said: “Pretty clever. If you don’t mind, I’ll try that diagnostic approach at the next house.” 

There, they spend several minutes talking with a young woman who says: “I’m feeling terribly tired lately.” 

The young doctor observes: “You’ve probably been too active for the church. Perhaps you should cut back a bit and see if that helps.” 

As they leave, the older doctor said: “I attend the same church and your diagnosis is almost certainly correct, but how did you arrive at it?” 

“Well,” replied the younger man, “when I dropped my stethoscope and bent down to pick it up, I saw the vicar under the bed.” 

Clive Williams is a Canberra columnist


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