Hearing and feeling your stomach bubble can be an unpleasant experience for many. While a bubbly gut is often a temporary and harmless condition, it can flag more serious medical issues.
On this page, we define what is a bubbly gut, as well as provide related symptoms to help you identify and treat what could be causing an increase in your stomach churning.
A bubbly gut, also known as “bubble guts”, is a condition referred to in the medical field as Borborygmi or intestinal peristaltic sounds. Bubbly guts are categorised by growling sounds and the sensation of a rumbling stomach, commonly occurring when your stomach processes the gas and fluids that have been introduced through eating.
Alternatively, when you experience rumbling before eating, your stomach and small intestine are contracting to signal that you are hungry.
However, some instances of bubbly gut can be more severe than others, indicating a potential issue with your digestive system.
Everyone has experienced a bubble gut at some point in their life. To help you identify your bubbly gut, here are some common symptoms that people experience:
When these symptoms are accompanied by symptoms like chest pains, weight loss and fatigue, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Various issues beyond hunger or indigestion contribute to bubble guts, and it is important to medically treat the cause of a bubble gut when your symptoms become unbearable. Such causes commonly include:
While most of these are not considered a medical emergency, it is always best to have a doctor diagnose you and provide a treatment plan based on its severity.
Swallowing air, also known as “aerophagia”, commonly occurs whenever we eat food or drink, and often harmlessly passes through the digestive tract. However, trapped gas can become painful when this habit is a frequent occurrence, or if it occurs from food sensitivity.
Causes of swallowing and trapping air include:
The air that cannot be expelled through burping or passing gas remains in the stomach, causing sensitivity of the stomach that becomes bubble guts.
Other corresponding symptoms of bubble guts caused by trapped gas include:
If you believe the gas trapped in your gut is caused by food intolerance or diet, it is best to diagnose what foods are causing bubble guts and avoid them.
Beyond this, however, a temporary instance of trapped gas can be relieved through these simple methods:
Alternatively, if the trapped gas is repeatedly caused by air swallowing, this can be a sign of a psychological disorder like depression or a deeply embedded habit. If you are experiencing a prolonged period of aerophagia, it is best to contact a medical professional to see if they can help modify your swallowing behaviour.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder that is triggered by several different factors:
Only a small handful of people experience severe forms of IBS. Regardless of the severity, however, across all instances of IBS the symptoms include:
The contractions caused by diarrhoea can often lead to the sensation of your gut bubbling. When combined with the other symptoms, IBS is a common cause of a bubbly gut.
In the case of certain foods causing IBS, your doctor may recommend keeping a food diary and eliminating foods known to cause certain symptoms of bubbly guts.
Examples of this are people who are lactose intolerant avoiding dairy products, or celiacs avoiding gluten.
Although most cases of IBS do not cause long-term intestinal damage, medicines are available for those who experience prolonged IBS. However, your doctor may still first recommend diet or lifestyle changes to eliminate most symptoms over time.
Head to our IBS management page for more information on treatment options and how to deal with this chronic disease.
Often mistaken for IBS, inflammatory bowel disease is an overarching term for disorders that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract rather than something caused by food intolerances or stress.
The inflammation can even spread from the intestines to the upper part of the abdomen, worsening symptoms and causing a high volume of fluid in the gut. This can contribute to the sensation of a bubbly gut.
There are two disorders classified under IBD, known as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which contain the following symptoms:
If left untreated, the complications are much more severe than IBS, with prolonged inflammation damaging the gastrointestinal tract. These issues can even become life-threatening if left untreated, increasing the risk of colon cancer and blood clots in veins or arteries.
Furthermore, excessive diarrhoea can cause extreme dehydration.
Treatments for IBD depend on reducing inflammation, and certain medications like anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics are often prescribed.
A trusted health professional should always recommend the exact form of treatment.
Also known as “gastroenteritis”, the stomach flu is caused by viruses, parasites, chemical toxins, or drugs that alter the digestive system and can last from 1 day to 2 weeks.
The contractions of the intestine caused by stomach flu can cause the rumbling of a bubbly gut. The addition of nausea can make this particular case of bubble guts to be accompanied by a sensation of bubbles popping and your stomach heaving.
Generally, cases of the stomach flu are not life-threatening, and healthcare professionals always prescribe:
However, dehydration and shock can occur if the stomach flu is severe enough and not properly treated. Seek a doctor if you are:
Helicobacter Pylori is another type of healthy bacteria located within your gut. However, when an excessive overgrowth of h pylori occurs in the gut, it can cause various stomach problems. This condition is most common when you contact infected food, drink or people.
H pylori infections are known for producing a rotten smelling breath, with peer-reviewed studies noting high sulphide levels in infected patients’ breath tests.
Other certain symptoms of this gut infection include:
Most infections require a set of antibiotics to help expel the excessive bacteria. To limit the amount of excess acid produced by the body, a doctor may also prescribe proton pump inhibitors. These will help reduce the intensity and frequency of the foul odour coming from your mouth.
Most instances of food poisoning last an average of a week, and its most common symptoms can be treated through:
In contrast, if you are experiencing the following symptoms, you must immediately seek professional aid:
In cases of severe dehydration, the loss of fluids through diarrhoea, vomiting and sweat can only be treated with intravenous (IV) fluid at a hospital.
While this severity of food poisoning may be daunting, it is possible never to have food poisoning. It can usually be done if you avoid foods that have been spoiled or undercooked meat, which can sometimes be difficult to spot or taste.
Sometimes your stomach is intolerant to certain foods, which may only be discovered after experiencing prolonged cases of bubble guts. If you experience stomach churning after eating certain food groups, that is often indicative that your digestive system cannot process those foods.
One of the more common examples of food intolerance is milk and dairy products, in which consuming these foods commonly causes:
Not treating food intolerance is not life-threatening, unlike food allergies, but it can cause distress in your everyday life. It is best to use the aid of a healthcare professional to figure out what foods you are intolerant to.
Aside from recommending avoiding the foods that would cause bubble guts, a professional may also prescribe certain medications like Lactaid to reduce symptoms.
Beyond food poisoning or intolerance, your regular diet can also cause stomach churning. Fatty foods or carbonated drinks can create a bubbling sensation that can only be relieved when you pass gas or avoid those foods.
A high-fibre diet can also cause a bubbly gut due to difficulty breaking down the substance. While many fibre-rich foods can help with digestion, it depends on what type of fibre is entering your intestines.
Insoluble fibre relieves gastrointestinal symptoms by speeding up digestion due to the fibre passing through the intestines unchanged. This fibre (when slowly introduced into your diet) can relieve constipation and gas.
Common foods with insoluble fibre are:
This type of fibre rarely causes bubble guts due to the ease with which it can be digested. Experiencing bubble guts after eating foods containing insoluble fibre may indicate broader issues like food intolerance or diet imbalance.
Unlike insoluble fibre, this fibre dissolves in water, creating a gel-like consistency that slows down digestion. Slowing down digestion causes a build-up of gas, which means soluble fibre can often do more harm than good when consumed in excess.
Namely, the trapped gas can cause bloating and abdominal pain synonymous with a bubbly gut.
The best treatment for a bubbly gut for your diet is to have a well-balanced one. Avoiding irritants and instead consuming fresh fruits and greens can reduce these symptoms.
If your symptoms are grave enough to be searching for immediate treatment, clinical approaches are the most fast-acting and long-lasting treatments for getting rid of bubble guts. This treatment usually comes in the form of prescription medication:
The Centre for Gastrointestinal Health (CGH) provides various services that provide the very best holistic care for your digestive tract. The scope of our services can be found here, many of which prescribe medications and treatment plans that can greatly reduce the health conditions that come with a bubbly gut.
Beyond an underlying condition, stress, change in routine and certain foods can cause bubbly guts. These can generally be temporarily treated through alternatives to medicating.
There are a few natural remedies to reduce stomach churning, bloating and gas. However, it should be recognised that these are only temporary solutions and are not effective replacements for professional treatments.
Just moving can aid in digestive efforts. Something with minimal effort, such as walking, can help pass food through your stomach faster. Furthermore, emptying your stomach makes it easier for gas to move to the small intestine.
Consequently, this will reduce bloating and gas that causes bubbling.
Live bacteria that line your gut, probiotics boost the amount of good bacteria in your gut and prevent bad bacteria from entering. Probiotic foods such as kimchi, miso, natto, kombucha, pickles, and raw cheese reduce gut inflammation.
Despite not being a medically approved method of getting rid of a bubble gut, peppermint tea is believed to relieve abdominal pain, bloating and even reduce symptoms of IBS.
A method often recommended by doctors to discover food intolerances, the elimination diet encourages you to cut out food triggers for a bubbly gut.
The elimination diet encourages you to remove any substances that can cause a bubbly gut, then introduce each food group systematically to discover what is affecting you. While time-consuming, this method can be a good starting point to determine what issue needs to be clinically treated; whether it is celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or IBS.
However, while remedies like these can be easy to utilise in everyday life, many only provide temporary relief from more persistent cases of bubble guts.
Chronic bubbly gut should always be approached clinically, and the team at the Centre for Gastrointestinal Health specialises in diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal such issues.
If your life is being affected by bubble guts, our doctors will provide you with your very own treatment plan, and be with you every step of the way to a healthy gut.
To speak to one of our specialists, contact us today by calling 1300 580 239 or fill out an online form here to book an appointment.