When you hear the word “liquid,” your first impression may be that it’s something luxury: champagne, wine, or water— right? Well, not exactly. When liquid hits your stomach, it can cause a host of uncomfortable feelings. The liquid in question is often water but this does not have to be the case. Many liquids are harmful and can lead to dangerous conditions if consumed in large amounts. If your stomach is an unhappy place lately, you may just have an insight into why. Liquid sloshing is when liquid suddenly makes its way into your body from some unexpected source. It could be from foods or beverages containing added sugar (or other sweeteners), drinking too much alcohol, taking medication that causes fluid retention or has a laxative effect, or due to another medical condition such as gastritis.
Why Do I Hear Liquid Sloshing in My stomach?
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What Causes is Liquid Sloshing?
- Food and Beverages
Foods and beverages can cause you to feel sick because of added sugar. It’s important to consume a variety of foods so that your body has the nutrients it needs, but too much of any food can make you feel sick. Sugary foods are often found in sodas, candy, ice cream, cake, and other desserts. Alcohol causes a number of problems from an increased risk for liver disease to feelings of nausea and vomiting.
Medications can cause your body to retain excess fluid by causing some physiological process or by blocking the absorption of necessary fluids in your digestive tract. Check with your doctor if you’re taking any medications that may be causing excess fluid retention or if you see any changes in your bowel movements or stomach pain or discomfort after taking these medications frequently.
- Laxative Use
You may have recently started using a laxative to clear out your bowels after eating something that made you feel bloated or gassy. You may have also been prescribed one as part of an illness such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) where constipation is common. These laxatives work by breaking down the muscle fibers in the large intestine so that stool passes through more easily when needed, but this action can also cause fluid retention which leads to liquid sloshing in the stomach as well as abdominal bloating and pain due to prolonged pressure on the abdomen.
- Other Causes
You may be experiencing liquid sloshing in your stomach due to other medical conditions such as:
Digestive disorders include achlorhydria, gastroparesis, and pancreatitis (inflammation or infection of the pancreas)
Gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers
Parasitic infections like giardia and amoeba (like E. coli)
How Do I Know When My Stomach Is Filling Up?
Stomach discomfort and heartburn are two common signs of fluid sloshing in your stomach. Symptoms that may indicate fluid sloshing include heartburn, nausea, stomach pain, bloating, and constipation.
- Stomach Sounds
When you sit down to eat, generally your stomach relaxes, so you will not hear anything if your stomach is full. If you are unable to retain as much fluid as usual because of excessive eating or drinking, you may hear a “sloshing” sound in your stomach which is the compacted stool that moves around and around with every motion of the bowel. Once this stool begins moving around, it can become very uncomfortable and even painful.
- Changes in Stool Frequency
Gastrointestinal stasis occurs when there is not enough normal peristaltic movement by the intestines to move food through the system efficiently. Gastrointestinal stasis can lead to severe bloating and abdominal pain after meals because excess fluid remains in the digestive tract past when it is usually passed out of the body via bowel movements. The discomfort is caused by pressure on a sensitive area at the top of your abdomen (the gastric fundus). Stomach sloshing is also a strong indication that you are having trouble emptying your bowels.
- Stool Color
When stool does go down the toilet, it should be a pale color and appear to be formed of watery fluid. If the stool is dark brown or black, it may indicate that you have blood in your stool or that there has been an obstruction of your digestive tract (such as an ulcer). The latter case may require further evaluation by a physician.
- Change in Frequency of Bowel Movements
When you eat a meal, there should be one movement by your stomach to signal the release of food and another after about 15 minutes for any remaining food to move out of your stomach. If there are two or more movements with only 15 minutes separating them, this indicates that you are experiencing intestinal gas (intestinal bloating) In some individuals without gastrointestinal issues, gastrointestinal gas can cause stomach discomfort similar to what is typically experienced with liquid sloshing. The natural gas odor associated with intestinal gas may also be present with abdominal bloating.
Tip For Easy Liquid Sloshing
If you are experiencing liquid sloshing, try these tips to make it easier:
- Eat a small meal before you go to bed.
- Eat your breakfast in the morning so that it will be digested before you have a large meal later in the day.
- Avoid eating too much of any one food at one time.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you are having difficulty emptying your bowels (see below).
- If you are not able to empty your bowels completely, try taking an over-the-counter laxative such as Miralax or Imodium at bedtime for a few days and see if that helps relieve your symptoms.
- If you have a history of constipation or diarrhea, be sure to follow your physician’s advice about dietary changes and medications for bowel regularity that may be needed for relief from liquid sloshing symptoms (e.g., stool softeners).
- Try drinking 1/2 cup of apple juice with 1/2 cup of prune juice each night before bedtime and see if this helps ease abdominal discomfort caused by liquid sloshing (see above).
Cause Of Liquid Sloshing: Food Or Beverage?
- If you experience liquid sloshing after a large meal, the food may have been sitting in your stomach for too long. If so, you may be experiencing gastroparesis (see below) or delayed gastric emptying.
- If you experience liquid sloshing after eating a small meal, the food may have moved through your digestive tract too quickly and caused abdominal bloating.
- Diarrhea can cause liquid sloshing as well as diarrhea-associated abdominal pain, and both conditions can be triggered by eating foods that contain too much water (e.g., raisins).
- Constipation can also cause liquid sloshing as well as constipation-associated abdominal pain, and this condition is often due to eating foods that are high in fiber (e.g., whole grains; bran; beans).
- Some individuals experience liquid sloshing from drinking too much water or from drinking beverages containing caffeine (e.g., coffee or tea).
- Other cases of liquid sloshing are due to eating or drinking too much salt, caffeine, alcohol, or other substances that can cause abdominal bloating (e.g., fatty foods).
Liquid sloshing is a very common condition that is usually caused by eating too much food or drinking too much liquid. It is important to note that there are several different types of liquid sloshing, and each type of liquid sloshing can be caused by a different cause. Therefore, it is important to determine the cause of your liquid sloshing before you start trying to relieve your symptoms with dietary changes and/or medications for bowel regularity.