10 common body sounds explained!

Published 9 Dec 2022 • By Candice Salomé

The human body is capable of producing many sounds: sneezing, yawning, cracking, flatulence, gurgling, etc. There are very few parts of our body that do not make any noise!

So how can we explain all these sounds produced by our bodies? Which of them are completely normal and which can be worrying?

We explain it all in our article!

10 common body sounds explained!

Where do the different sounds that our body makes come from, such as the cracking of our joints or the gurgling of our stomach, intestinal gas, sneezes, hiccups? Can they reveal something about our health?

In this article, we will decipher 10 common sounds of the human body!

Why does our stomach make this gurgling noise? 

Sometimes our stomach can be very noisy and it can even become embarrassing!

Gurgling noises (also known as stomach rumble, bowel sound, or burborygmes) tend to occur when you are hungry, digesting or stressed.

These sounds are caused by the intestines contracting and relaxing, while expelling the air they contain. These contractions and relaxations, called peristalsis, allow the body to digest the food it consumed. The reason we gurgle when we are hungry is because there is a lot of air in the stomach, so this is quite normal.

Why do we have hiccups? 

Contrary to what we have often heard, hiccups are not a sign that we are growing up!

It is a completely normal physiological phenomenon that can occur at any age, especially after eating too quickly. Hiccups often do not last long, from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Hiccups are caused by a sudden, coordinated contraction of the respiratory muscles of the diaphragm, the external intercostal muscle and the scalene muscles (three muscles at the front and the sides of the neck), followed by a brief blockage of the upper airway.

Hiccups are, in the vast majority of cases, benign. However, if it does not pass quickly, it may be a sign of a more serious condition such as digestive or pulmonary disease.

In addition, hiccups can become more common during periods of stress or after heavy alcohol consumption.

Why can we hear a whistling sound when we breathe? 

Do you sometimes hear a high-pitched noise when you breathe out? Wheezing is caused by discomfort in the airways. It is usually caused by the narrowing of the airways, which can be in its turn caused by several factors: an infectious disease (bronchitis), a chronic disease (asthma, COPD, heart failure) or an allergy.

Why do we have flatulence? 

Flatulence (passing of the intestinal gas) can be very embarrassing, especially when it is noisy and/or smelly.

It is due to the fact that part of the food we ingest is not digested by the body. This food will then ferment under the action of the bacteria present in the colon, which causes the appearance of gas. This gas then leaves the colon and travels to the rectum and finally escapes through the anus. The noise and smell are caused by the expulsion of air. This is a normal phenomenon.

However, if flatulence occurs repeatedly or is accompanied by heaviness or pain in the intestines, it may be a sign of poor digestion or an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota.

Why do we yawn? 

Yawning is an involuntary, irrepressible and contagious behaviour that causes a whole series of muscles to stretch and contract.

It seems to have the effect of stimulating our vigilance, particularly regarding the changes in the sleep/wake and hunger/satiety rhythms. Indeed, we yawn when we wake up in order to get out of the REM sleep phase, but also when we are hungry or have eaten too much, or when we are tired.

Yawning is said to be triggered by an increase in brain temperature, and has a thermoregulatory effect, allowing us to regain alertness.

Why do our joints crack? 

Joint cracking is caused by a sudden separation of the joint surfaces. It is the compression of bubbles in the synovium, a fluid that surrounds the joints, as a result of rapid movement. This fluid also contains gases which, in the synovial fluid, will cause air bubbles to form, resulting in noises and crackling of the joints. This phenomenon is not dangerous in most cases.

However, if the cracking is accompanied by pain, it is wise to talk to your doctor about it.

Why do we snore? 

Snoring is a sound that comes from the throat and is caused by the relaxation of the pharyngeal muscles during sleep. This can lead to a partial obstruction of the upper airways.

In order for the lungs to be properly supplied with oxygen, the body accelerates the airflow, causing the relaxed tissues to vibrate, which produces a snoring sound.

Snoring can be aggravated by excess fat in the neck, sinusitis, sleep apnoea, being overweight, taking anti-anxiety drugs, smoking or drinking alcohol.

Snoring is quite harmless, but it can be disturbing to those around you. If this is the case, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor.

Why do we burp? 

Burping results from swallowing air when we eat or drink. The air swallowed arrives in the stomach but is eventually expelled through the mouth. This phenomenon helps to get rid of bloating. It is caused by the vibrations of the cardia, which is a kind of valve between the stomach and the oesophagus.

Where does cough come from? 

Coughing does not only occur when we are ill! A cough is the sound we hear when we expel air from our lungs and bronchial tubes. It is a reflex mechanism that allows us to expel germs, bronchial secretions and other unwanted elements such as dust. We may cough when we wake up in order to clear the deposits that have settled in our bronchial tubes during the night.

Coughs can also be caused by allergies, digestive problems or infections.

Why do we sneeze? 

Sneezing cannot be controlled, it is a reflex caused by the presence of a foreign body in the nasal passage. Our nose contains many sensors that send a signal to the brain when an unwanted element is detected. The brain then instructs the body to inhale a large volume of air and then expel it by a sudden contraction of the breathing muscles.

This is a defence mechanism that simply expels any foreign body from our nose!

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Take care!

avatar Candice Salomé

Author: Candice Salomé, Health Writer

Candice is a content creator at Carenity and specialises in writing health articles. She has a particular interest in the fields of women's health, well-being and sport. 

Candice holds a master's degree in... >> Learn more

1 comment

on 25/12/2022

My stomach gurgles constantly, makes noises loudly and some very weird sounds almost as if it's talking to me. I can have these sounds before during and after eating regardless of how much or how little I have eaten that day or how often I have been to the toilet and had bowel movements. I have ulcerative colitis and when I've asked at the hospital about these noises I have been told everyone has them it's normal. Well I'm sorry I don't think the amount of gurgling or loud and weird noises all day and night is normal

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