In the Spotlight
When you eat, you swallow air along with your food. Think of your digestive system as a food processor. Your gastrointestinal tract pushes and strains to move the food. It also pushes air bubbles, along with gasses your body makes as it breaks down the food. The bubbles being squeezed and pushed through you create tummy rumbles. When air bubbles are caught, they make the gurgling and growling sounds. This is called borborygmus (bor-bor-RIG-mus). Everyone has gas. The gas inside you comes out of either end of your gastrointestinal tract. When it comes out of your mouth, it is a burp. When it comes out of your rear end, it is called "passing gas." Burping and passing gas is normal. When you burp after a meal, it is because you have lots of air in your stomach. In some cultures, a burp is a way of offering a compliment for a good meal. Other cultures see a burp as being rude.
Changing what you eat and drink can help prevent or reduce gas. There are ways to reduce the amount of gas you have. You can cut down on the foods and liquids that cause gas. These include certain foods that are high in fiber such as beans, and fizzy drinks. You can also reduce the amount of air you swallow. For example, you can eat slower and chew more thoroughly when you eat. You can keep track of foods that seem to cause you the most problems by keeping a food journal. You can also keep track of the number of times you burp or pass gas each day. You may want to talk with your doctor if you change what you eat but still have a lot of gas. Take your food diary with you to help you answer the doctor's questions.
Your Digestive System and How It Works (National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
What I need to know about Gas Works (National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
10 Tips on Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence (American College of Gastroenterology)
Borborygmus: The gurgling, rumbling, or growling noise from the belly caused by the process that moves food from the stomach and bowels downward. The word "borborygmus" has been rumbling around the English language since 1796. The word arrived from New Latin, but traces its way back to the Greek "borboryzein," which means, "to rumble."
Updated/Reviewed: August 31, 2009