NOV 20, 2016 05:56 AM PST

Why an Empty Stomach is So Noisy!

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

It's embarrassing - you're sitting in a late afternoon meeting and your stomach decides to start rumbling with reckless abandon. It's so loud that people next to you turn and ask if you've skipped lunch! And at the mention, you sheepishly admit that, indeed, lunch wasn't too satisfying, and now you're feeling hungry. Why do our stomachs give our hunger away in the form of an embarrassing chorus?

As Dr. Lisa Ganjhu of NYU Langone explains, you can think of the stomach as a balloon. When it's full, the stomach can muffle the noises coming from the contractions of the digestive system. However, when your stomach is empty, the so-called balloon is "deflated," and any sounds made by the intestines seem magnified because there's no food to buffer the noise.

Rest assured that the rumbling, growling, and even sloshing noises are all normal. While they may occur at inopportune moments, the sounds help remind us to refuel for a healthy body!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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