Something of a foul nature is approaching in this post, but as long as you hear noise, that means that your system is working. People often joke about flatulence and passing wind, but we all do this and the average person passes wind or farts about 15 times a day. Instead of stomach noises being used for humor, let’s try to learn more about our bodies, as a normal digestive system is going to let some gas escape from time to time, thus bowel noises are part of life. Intestinal gas, or air in the digestive tract, is usually not noticed until we burp or pass it rectally (flatulence). Everyone passes gas several times daily, and occasional burping or belching is normal. The entire digestive tract, from the stomach to the rectum, contains intestinal gas as the natural consequence of swallowing food and air and digesting food. Borborygmi (audible rumblings) is a normal phenomenon that anyone can experience. It is associated with hunger, slow or incomplete digestion, or the consumption of certain foods.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients in foods that are eaten and helps pass waste material out of the body. Chewing your food helps to break it down, and when it is lubricated with saliva, it forms a cohesive mass known as the food bolus. Food moves from the throat to the stomach through a hollow, muscular tube called the esophagus. Muscular contractions in your stomach walls help to mix food and digestive secretions turn this into chyme. Chyme is a waste product derived from the pulpy acidic fluid which passes from the stomach to the small intestine, consisting of gastric juices and partly digested food. After leaving the stomach, partly-digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine. The colon (large bowel) is the first part of the large intestine. The large intestine is connected to the sigmoid colon, which is the last section of the bowel and its job is to hold feces until you’re ready to defecate or expel feces by controlling your sphincter muscle to push the stool out. I don’t think that it is necessary to dig too deep into the anal canal and describe the squamocolumnar junction or the anal verge, but basically the anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body), although I do need to mention peristalsis.
Peristalsis is a series of wave-like muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract, and this involuntary constriction and relaxation of the intestine or another canal muscles pushes wastes out of your body. This movement begins in the pharynx which is connected to the esophagus, once a food bolus (a semi-solid mass of food) is formed, and it ends in the anus. If your stomach starts gurgling, and grumbling, this is most likely a sign that you are hungry, but borborygmi can also occur when you are not hungry and this noise is caused by an excessive gas moving back and forth in the intestine. Intestinal gas comes from either swallowed air or the fermentation by bacteria of poorly digested carbohydrates in the colon. Anytime you swallow food, you are also taking air in with it and this may be why your mother told you to chew your food with your mouth shut. Having excess air in your gut causes your food to be improperly absorbed and if these gases remain trapped in your digestive system, it will produce bloating and abdominal distention.
Abdominal sounds (bowel sounds) are made by the movement of the intestines as they push food through. The intestines are hollow, so bowel sounds echo through the abdomen much like the sounds heard from water pipes. Most bowel sounds are normal and they indicate that the gastrointestinal tract is working. If you hear your stomach making noise, most of this is caused by gas and intestinal contractions of the muscles that mix and propel contents in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Even when you’re not eating, your gut is moving. If you have food in your intestine, it should muffle the sound, but if you have air in there, and that’s all you’re moving, that is what you’ll hear. If your stomach produces more than one gurgling sound, then that makes borborygmus plural and you have borborygmi.
Written for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Borborygmus.