If it seems as though your body has become noisier than it used to be, it may not be your imagination. But when cartoonish gurgles, growls, snorts, whistles or pops regularly emanate from various parts of your body — sometimes at inopportune moments — it's time to pause and listen to what those sounds may be trying to tell you.
Here's a closer look at why various noises happen, and when they're cause for concern.
Why It Happens: Stomach gurgling and flatulence can be unwelcome rewards for having healthfully upped your intake of fruits, vegetables and other high-fiber foods that produce gas in your intestines. These symptoms can also be a sign of lactose intolerance, even if you've never had it before. “We are all much more likely to become lactose intolerant after age 40 because as we get older, there's a marked decrease in the amount of lactase [the enzyme needed to digest the lactose in milk and other dairy products] that's produced in our intestines,” says Cynthia Yoshida, M.D., a professor of gastroenterology at the University of Virginia Digestive Health Center.
Cause for Concern: Stomach gurgling that's accompanied by abdominal pain and vomiting could be due to a gastrointestinal blockage, so be sure to consult your doctor if you have this blend of symptoms. For the vast majority of people, stomach gurgling on its own isn't anything to worry about, Yoshida says. If intestinal rumblings are accompanied by gas pain, taking an over-the-counter medicine that contains simethicone — such as Gas-X, Mylanta or Maalox Plus — may help.