From gurgling to wheezing, what do all those body noises mean?

CHANCES are you have noticed most of them. The noises from your body range from the bizarre to the surprising and, in some cases, downright grim.

From our knees to our necks, noses and toes, most areas of the body come with their own audio accompaniment.

But have you ever stopped to think about what these noises mean? 

Most of us notice them then just get on with our lives. Some are obviously a healthy body doing its thing – but other rumblings should warrant further investigation.

They could be a sign that something serious is going on.

To help you separate the snaps from the crackles and pops, This Morning GP Dr Philippa Kaye, inset, and consultant surgeon Mr Kalpesh Patel tell Clare O’Reilly when the gurgles are good and the belching is bad . . . 


IT’S common for a loud noise to leave you with a bit of ringing in your ears.

But if you notice the buzzing, hissing or throbbing doesn’t ease off, it’s worth speaking to your GP.

You could have tinnitus, a condition that has been linked to Covid and can be exacerbated by stress.

Mr Patel explains: “It affects older people more frequently and has lots of causes, from hearing loss to excessive ear wax and medications. 

“After examination, hearing tests and MRI scans can help make a diagnosis.”

The University of Manchester found that 6.6 per cent of Covid patients reported developing tinnitus after a hospital stay.


IF you have experienced a whistling in your nose when you breathe in or out, you know it is usually painless. 

Typically it is caused by an obstruction in the air flow and can happen when people are bunged-up from Covid, a cold or hay fever. 

Dr Kaye explains: “Noisy breathing and whistling from the nose is most often due to a build-up of mucus in the nostril, so it might happen with a cold or with allergies such as hay fever.”

In rare cases, Mr Patel says, whistling can be caused by something else obstructing the nose – such as septal deviation, nasal polyps, foreign bodies or tumours.

“It can also occur when a hole opens in the septum, either from trauma, nasal surgery or substance abuse,” he says. “Depending on the cause, the noise can usually be resolved by clearing the obstruction. 

“In more unusual cases, a hole may need to be closed in surgery.”


THIS is one you might not notice yourself. It is more likely your partner will spot it.

Grinding your teeth is often caused by other conditions such as stress, anxiety or sleep problems.

Studies have found it can be related to a vitamin D or calcium deficiency and it also occurs in association with sleep apnoea. 

“You might hear this in a partner or in your children when they are sleeping,” says Dr Kaye.

“The medical term for this is bruxism. It can lead to headaches or temporomandibular joint pain, which is the joint where your jaw attaches to your skull. 

“If you have a problem in this area, see your dentist for advice and guidance.”


HUMANS have eight metres of intestines, so it’s little wonder there’s a few gurgles.

The walls of the gastrointestinal tract are made of muscle, which helps move liquids, food and digestive acids through to the intestines and bowels.

Dr Kaye says: “The noises are made when your intestines process your food. It’s related to the gas and fluids that pass through.”

Doctors might have a listen to your tummy for bowel sounds with a stethoscope. A lack of gurgling can be cause for concern as it could be an intestinal obstruction.

Dr Kaye says: “Symptoms include constipation, so not even passing a fart, and persistent vomiting.” 


BANGING sounds in your head could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Exploding head syndrome is a sleep disorder that causes you to hear loud noises when you wake up. Dr Kaye says: “We don’t see it very often but if it happens, call your GP.”

Another cause of banging is a thunderclap headache. As Dr Kaye says: “The pain is so sudden, it is like a clap of thunder and can be due to a brain aneurysm (a bulging blood vessel that can be very serious if it bursts). Seek urgent medical help if you suffer this sudden type of head pain.”

Another cause could be migraines, which feel like throbbing headaches.


GASPING for air is the body’s reaction to a shortness of breath and can be serious, even life-threatening. One form is known as agonal breathing.

That is when someone is gasping for air, explains Mr Patel. It is a natural reflex that happens when your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen and is a sign a person is near death.

“It’s associated with cardiac arrest or a brainstem problem, such as a stroke,” Mr Patel says. 

“This is a medical emergency and immediate medical attention needs to be sought.”

If you notice your partner is waking up gasping during the night, it could be a sign of a condition called sleep apnoea, Dr Kaye adds.

She says: “In obstructive sleep apnoea, the person snores loudly then stops breathing for a short amount of time, before partially waking and gasping for air. 

“If gasping starts or increases in frequency, make a GP appointment to get checked out, as broken sleep can have a big impact on quality of life.”

Cracking joints

KNUCKLES that crack are among the more common bodily sounds.

It is simply due to gas bubbles in your joints escaping, Dr Kaye explains.

“It doesn’t cause arthritis but it is annoying!” she adds.

“Crepitus is the word for hearing a noise when you move a joint, be it your knee or jaw. It can be a grinding, creaking or crunching sound and is usually due to osteoarthritis – wear and tear of the joints.

“See your GP if there is pain. 

“Cracking when you move your neck could be nerve root impingement. If you experience any pain with cracking or popping, get it checked out.”


SHORTNESS of breath was one of the first recognised symptoms of Covid. Even now, if you are suffering it is important to get tested.

But wheezing can be caused by other conditions, from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) to asthma, allergies and bronchitis. 

“If the wheezing comes on suddenly or is accompanied by a high fever, call 111,” says Dr Kaye. “If you’re affected at different times of day, or after different foods or drinks, keep a diary of it and make an appointment to see your GP.

“Wheezing can be heard by yourself or others and can be from the nose if you have a cold, or from the chest such as in asthma. If you’re wheezy and feel short of breath, get checked urgently.”


WHILE perhaps less regular than flatulence, burping can be just as unpleasant.

The average person belches between three and six times a day. 

Dr Kaye says: “It’s common – more so if you eat quickly or drink fizzy drinks. But if you start burping more than normal or experience pain, book to see your GP.

“It could be acid reflux or an inflammation of the stomach lining.”


WHETHER you like to admit it or not, the average person farts five to 15 times a day.

And according to Dr Kaye, it is generally a good thing.

She says: “It’s the sign of a healthy gut. If you suddenly increase the amount of fibre in your diet, you can notice an increase in farting. But it tends to settle down.”

But as with most bodily functions, if something changes or doesn’t feel right, the best course of action is to check with your doctor.

Dr Kaye adds: “If the amount you fart changes or it suddenly becomes very smelly, or is linked to a change in bowel habit or stomach pain, see your GP.”

A change in bowel habits can be caused by many things but at the more serious end of the spectrum it can be a sign of bowel cancer. So get it checked.


EVER heard a whooshing sound deep inside your head?

There is a passageway that leads from the throat (or pharynx) to the middle ear, called the Eustachian tube.

When it is blocked, it can feel like your ears are filled with water and can lead to a whooshing sound. 

Consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon Mr Patel, of the London ENT Clinic, says it is also common when people fly. He adds: “The blocked tube means the air can’t equalise, which causes pain during descent.” 

Dr Kaye adds: “A congested Eustachian tube can also be a cause of tinnitus but can be solved by popping your ears or yawning to equalise the pressure.”


THOUGH they can annoying, hiccups are usually completely harmless and they should disappear on their own.

Holding your breath and drinking iced water can help, Dr Kaye advises.

“It’s related to eating and drinking, in particular fizzy drinks or eating too fast,” she adds. Spicy food or chewing gum are also culprits. Dr Kaye adds: “It can also occur due to stress – or sometimes there’s no identifiable cause at all. If you have persistent hiccups, please speak to your GP – as it could be due to a medication or irritation of the nerve to the diaphragm. So it needs to be investigated. 

“If a single hiccupping episode lasts for more than 48 hours, consult your GP.”

    Source: Read Full Article