By Medicover Hospitals / 27 Mar 2021
Discomfort or stomach ache after eating has several causes. If stomach pain occurs after eating and then goes away, it is usually caused by food. If a person has other symptoms or persistent discomfort despite changes in their diet, it could be a medical condition. Stomach pain can be avoided by a person eating a balanced and healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Not eating spicy or fatty foods and cutting back on sugary drinks or caffeine can also help.
- What is Discomfort After Food?
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is Discomfort After Food?
Discomfort or stomachache, which worsens after eating, or postprandial pain, may have a frustrating set of symptoms. Maybe you hoped that a few crackers would ease your stomach ache, especially if you had eaten a little earlier in the day, but it hurts more than before. Abdominal pain that gets worse after eating can be because of a wide variety of causes, making it important to seek treatment.
Postprandial pain has a strong link with the food you eat. Most people can even identify the foods that trigger their symptoms the most. For example, symptoms often occur after eating spicy foods or foods rich in fat. Indigestion (also known as dyspepsia) is also a common feature. Indigestion is persistent discomfort or pain in the upper abdominal area.
Here are some causes of this unexplained stomach ache after eating:
There is no doubt that what we eat and put in our bodies can influence how we feel. Here are some small causes of stomach cramps or stomach pain after eating.
- Food Poisoning: Caused by eating foods containing germs or only its toxins, food poisoning can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pain is usually felt in the abdominal and intestines.
- Irritating Foods: Certain foods are known to irritate the stomach lining or exacerbate gastritis. Acidic foods, spicy foods, coffee, and alcohol can all have this effect.
- Allergies and Intolerances: A food allergy (immune response) or food intolerance (digestive response) can lead to stomach cramps after eating, nausea and diarrhea.
- Overeating: Pay attention to the recommended serving size versus the actual portions on your plate. Overeating causes the stomach to stretch beyond its normal capacity, resulting in pain, gas, discomfort, and bloating.
Whether you are making the right food choices, there are a variety of medical conditions that can cause an upset stomach after you eat. Here are some of the most common culprits of stomach pain:
- Indigestion: Indigestion is best described as an abdominal ache or a feeling of fullness after eating. It can cause other digestive issues or be caused by lifestyle, diet, or medication.
- Gastrointestinal Reflux (GERD): You are probably familiar with the term heartburn, which is the number one symptom of GERD. This condition occurs when gastric contents move up into the esophagus, causing chest pain or a “burning” sensation in the chest and acidic fluid in the throat or mouth.
- Gastritis: Gastritis occurs when the lining of the stomach is inflamed and swollen. Many things can cause this, but they are usually the result of a Helicobacter pylori infection that is exacerbated by food and lifestyle choices or by long-term use of certain medications.
- Peptic ulcer: Most commonly caused by H. pylori infection or long-term use of aspirin or NSAIDs, peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inner lining of your stomach and the small intestine.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. It happens when digestive juices or enzymes from the pancreas attack pancreatic tissue. Pancreatitis can be short or long-term and is often caused by alcohol abuse or blockage of gallstones.
- Bile duct disorders and gallstones: Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) can cause gallstones to form, which can block the exit tube of the gallbladder. This causes severe pain, nausea, and a buildup of bile, leading to jaundice.
- Constipation: Although constipation is not always related to stomach pain after eating, some people report bloating, discomfort in the small or large intestine.
- Intestinal gas: Depending on a person's sensitivity, some people may experience significant pain after eating due to gas build-up in the stomach and intestinal tract. The pain may radiate to the upper abdomen or chest.
Other causes: Stress, Anxiety, and Medication:
There is an incredible connection between mind and body and the things we put in there. If you don't have any of the above conditions, but feel unwell after eating, read on to find out how stress, anxiety, and “normal” medications can be causing your problem.
- Stress and Anxiety: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a frustrating condition that causes abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It currently has no known specific cause, but it is believed that there is a link between IBS, stress sensitivity, and the regulation of the stress response. Research shows that 50 to 90 percent of people with IBS also suffer from a psychiatric disorder like anxiety or depression.
- Medication: There are a variety of medications that can cause stomach pain after eating or digestive problems. NSAIDs, nitrates, calcium channel blockers, oral antibiotics, and birth control pills can cause GERD and reflux or irritate the lining of the stomach. Long-term use may cause gastritis, ulcers, bleeding, or perforation of the stomach.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of your stomach pain just by listening to you describe your symptoms. Sometimes, however, more invasive tests may be needed. This could include:
If you suspect a food intolerance, trial and error is often the best way to identify it. You may want to keep a food journal to track your symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend an elimination diet.
- pH monitoring
- CT scan
- Blood tests
- Fecal blood sampling
Treatments for the above problems can vary widely. For example, if you think the problem is that you are having trouble processing the beans, which then leads to painful gas, over-the-counter medications like simethicone can help ease the distension that is causing your pain.
When to visit a Doctor?
If anyone exhibits symptoms of the medical conditions listed here, they should see a doctor.
If stomach pain after eating persists for a long time, and lifestyle and diet changes do not work, people are advised to seek medical attention.
There are also many strategies you can try to stay one step ahead of your symptoms.
- Limit the use of NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can cause or worsen postprandial pain. Talk to your doctor about the alternatives you can use.
- Limit the consumption of spicy, fatty, or acidic foods: Certain foods in these categories (caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or fruit juices, etc.) are said to be triggers for postprandial pain.
- Avoid alcohol and stop smoking: Alcohol and smoking are associated with increased production of stomach acid and therefore irritation of the abdominal lining.
Frequently Asked Questions:
There are a lot of things that could make your stomach ache after eating. It is likely that you have indigestion or common heartburn and are taking advantage of over-the-counter medications. But if your symptoms persist for several weeks, you may have a chronic illness and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Gastritis causes inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. Mild gastritis can be treated at home with medication and diet changes. Cutting out acidic foods and eating small meals throughout the day can help.
People with indigestion often experience a feeling of fullness at the start of a meal or an uncomfortable feeling of fullness after a meal, discomfort or a burning sensation in the stomach and bloating. Indigestion is often triggered by medications, different foods, and drinks. Specifically, it can be caused by eating too fast.
Here are the foods that cause stomach pain:
- spicy foods
- uncultured dairy products (such as milk and cheese)
- whole grains and other high-fiber foods
- raw vegetables
- greasy or fatty foods
- caffeine and alcohol