Why does your stomach growl?

A STAFF REPORT FROM THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Dear Straight Dope:

My husband and I were watching TV last night, and our stomachs were playing "dueling gurgles." This got us wondering why stomachs make noises. Also, what causes them to growl when we are hungry?

Tech replies:

Well, not to be indelicate here, but it’s the shifting of matter, acids, and gases–oh, hell, let’s be indelicate. Mostly, it’s the passage of gas downward through your system. If your stomach is making a lot of noise, you can pretty much bet that before long, you’re going to do something that makes the indelicacy of this answer seem rather polite. There’s even a medical term for this: borborygmus.

Some of the noise can also simply be a result of the digestion process at work, and the reason our stomachs growl more when we’re hungry is just that there’s more empty space involved.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.

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