Almost everyone has experienced stomach pain after eating once in their lifetime. Stomach hurts after eating has numerous causes, most benign, but some may be serious. Mostly, it is due to some gastrointestinal upset. But if you have frequent or recurring stomach pain every time after eating, then you need to see a gastroenterologist.
Stomach ache after eating can be dull or sharp. Stomach ulcer or GERD may cause burning like stomach pain. Overeating may cause dull stomach pain and the sharp pain after eating may be a result of gastroenteritis (diarrhea and vomiting) or food poisoning. Sometimes, you may experience colicky pain in the abdomen after eating that is due to gallstones.
The exact cause of your stomach pain after eating can be easily detected with the timing of pain. Regular stomach pain only after eating certain foods shows that your pain is due to food intolerance or food allergy.
If you experience stomach pain after few hours of eating and the pain may temporarily improve when you eat shows that you have a stomach ulcer. Food poisoning often happens within hours of eating contaminated food.
- Causes of Stomach Pain After Eating
Causes of Stomach Pain After Eating
There are several causes for the stomach ache after your meals. Let’s see the causes and the treatments in detail.
1. Overeating or Eating too fast
An upset stomach after a meal can be a result of eating too fast or overeating. Dumping too much of food in your stomach may lead to indigestion. While chewing, food mixes with your saliva. The enzymes in the saliva start the digestion process by breaking down the food into starches and fats.
If you eating too faster, saliva does not mix with your food and causes indigestion. Also, the overeating does the same process. Having severe stomach pain after eating anything indicates that your stomach does not bear the dumping and it need to expel out something.
Just avoid over dumping foods at a time and take foods at regular intervals to treat the stomach pain.
2. Lactose Intolerance
Some people may feel that their stomach always hurts after eating. This may be due to the lactose intolerance. This illness is also called as lactose malabsorption.
People who are infected with lactose intolerance are not able to completely digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. This results in diarrhea, gas and stomach pain after eating or drinking dairy products.
This is a mild condition and no need to worry a lot for this. You can reduce this discomfort by avoiding large servings of milk and other dairy products.
Supplements of the enzyme lactase help you to digest lactose. It is helpful if you are lactose intolerant. Also, go for some dairy products that are lactose-free.
3. Food Allergy
Even allergic reactions to the food may also cause stomach ache after eating. It occurs when your immune system reacts unusually to specific foods. The symptoms include an itchy sensation inside mouth and throat, vomiting, itchy red rashes, throwing up yellow bile, stomach hurts after eating, swelling of the tongue, face, lips, and roof of the mouth.
The most common foods that are responsible for about 90% of food allergies are as follows
- Milk (mostly in children)
- Tree nuts
Avoid packed, canned foods and the above-listed foods. You will need to work with a dietitian to regulate an exact diet for your allergic reaction.
4. Food Intolerance
Food Intolerance is also a common illness like a food allergy. Often, many people mistook both food allergy and food intolerance as same illness. But both are different in many ways. In food intolerance, your immune system does not involve, illness is not series, and experience symptoms slowly when compared to food allergy.
Your body could not tolerate some foods or group of foods (Artificial flavorings, Emulsifiers, Flavor enhancers, Preservatives, Sweeteners, etc). Even if you eat too much, your stomach can not tolerate the additional dump. These and all leads to food intolerance.
In general, the symptoms of food intolerance are the abdominal pain after eating, bloating, diarrhoea, irritable bowel, skin rashes and itching.
The only way to avoid food intolerance is to follow elimination or exclusion diet. In this you have to eliminate certain foods in your daily meals and check your symptoms. By this elimination diet, you can identify the foods that causes food intolerance and can avoid those foods in the coming days.
5. Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye). It is a common digestive disorder where the small intestine becomes swollen and unable to absorb nutrients. The symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain after eating, bloating, indigestion, and constipation.
There’s no instant cure for this disease. But avoiding gluten foods and switching to a gluten-free diet should help to relieve from the symptoms.
6. Food poisoning
As per the Centers for Disease Control, one in six Americans are infected from food poisoning every year.
Food poisoning also causes stomach pain after eating. It is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms such as bacteria, virus or parasites and some toxins are the common causes of food poisoning. They contaminate the food and results in food poisoning. The most common culprit here is salmonella or E. coli bacteria.
The symptoms are mild and it can be cured in few days without any treatment. The symptoms include aching muscles, chills, diarrhea, blood or mucus in stool, nausea, fever, weakness, loss of appetite, stomach cramps after eating, vomiting and abdominal (tummy) pain.
To get relief from food poisoning, stop eating and drinking for a while, drink fluids to hydrate yourself, take small sips of ice water, take rest and avoid some foods.
7. Peptic Ulcer
It is a very common illness and the most common cause for stomach pain after eating. Pain in the center of abdomen a few hours after eating may shows that you are suffering from an ulcer. Peptic ulcers are lesions that develop in the lining of the stomach, small intestine, or in lower esophagus.
It is due to a result of inflammation caused by erosion from stomach acids or by the bacteria H. pylori.
Peptic ulcers are broadly classified into 3 types.
- Gastric ulcers (ulcers that develop inside the stomach)
- Esophageal ulcers: (ulcers that develop inside the esophagus)
- Duodenal ulcers: (ulcers that develop in the small intestines)
The causes includes H. pylori a bacteria, radiation therapy, smoking, stomach cancer, drinking too much alcohol and frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs
The symptoms of peptic ulcers may include indigestion, nausea, upset stomach after eating or stomach cramps after eating, vomiting, changes in appetite, blood in stool, and unexplained weight loss.
This illness can be easily treated with antibiotics and certain medications.
Gallstones are hard deposits in your gallbladder. This gall bladder is responsible for storing bile (a digestive fluid produced by liver). As per the Harvard health school, the 80% of gallstones are made of cholesterol.
The most common symptom is pain in the right upper quadrant of your stomach and stomach hurts after eating. After proper diagnosis, the gallstones can be easily dissolved by your doctor.
Diverticulosis is the formation of numerous tiny pockets (diverticula) in the lining of the bowel. It most commonly forms in the narrowest part of the large intestine, the sigmoid colon.
Sigmoid Diverticulitis is when these pockets become inflamed or infected. This disease is common among those over the age of 60.
A high-fibre diet can often ease the symptoms of this disease. Painkillers and paracetamol are prescribed by your doctor and very rarely for severe cases, surgery is needed to remove the affected section of the intestine.
10. Gas pain
Gas pain is the most common cause for the stomach ache after eating. It occurs when gas is formed in your intestine and is not released (trapped within your Intestine) by the body during the digestion process. Usually, intestinal gas is harmless, but it can be painful and uncomfortable.
The symptoms include a knotted feeling in your stomach, bad breath, belching and burping, flatulence, lack of appetite, Sharp, poking pains or cramps in your abdomen, stomach cramps and bloating after eating.
There are several ways to relieve from gas and bloating.
If you experience lower stomach pain after eating, then it may be due to appendicitis.
The swelling and irritation of appendix at the end of your large intestine is called as appendicitis. Initially, it causes cramps around your belly button and spreads to the lower right side of your abdomen. Soon the cramps can be bad or severe. These cramps are different from menstrual cramps without a period.
Most people feel sick in their stomach or throw up and experience cramps but no bleeding. A burst appendix can be life-threatening and treatment is a must to cure or remove it.
Gastroenteritis can occur soon after eating because any movement in the intestinal tract irritates the swollen tissues. This stomach irritation causes diarrhea, vomiting, mild fever and pain in stomach after eating.
It is common in all age groups and mainly caused by virus and bacteria. Lower abdominal pain after eating more often indicates gastroenteritis.
To get relief from this illness take rest, drink lot of fluids, take paracetamol to reduce fever and go for soft foods.
13. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common illness that affects the large intestine (colon). This syndrome causes stomach cramping after eating, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. It causes sudden cramps in your stomach and the pain goes away after you poop.
The associated symptoms are abdominal pressure, menstrual cramps without bleeding, tiredness, gas, stomach discomfort after eating, feeling sick stomach and spotting mucus in the poop.
It is one of the serious medical conditions where the pancreas becomes swollen over a short period of time. The pancreas is an abdominal gland located behind the stomach in your upper abdomen. This illness may cause stomach discomfort after eating.
The symptoms include diarrhea, upset stomach after eating, weakness and suddenly getting severe pain in the abdomen (tummy).
The possible causes for this illness are Alcohol consumption, smoking, exposure to certain chemicals, Gallstones, High triglyceride levels, stomach injury, Cystic fibrosis, Pancreatic cancer, and surgery. This illness needs an immediate medical help to cure it completely.
15. Intestinal Obstruction
An intestinal obstruction occurs when your small or large intestine is blocked. This blockage prevents the passage of digested food and fluids.
The gas formation and some of the foods and fluids builds up pressure in the abdomen and causes abdominal rupture. This blocks the passage and makes the intestine to leak harmful stomach substances out of it. This intestinal obstruction can cause severe pain after a meal that does not go away.
The symptoms include abdominal swelling, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea, upset stomach after eating, severe abdominal cramps, severe bloating and vomiting.
This disease is a medical emergency and needs a doctor’s care to get complete recovery.
In a nutshell,
Almost everyone has experienced stomach pain after eating once in their lifetime. Stomach hurts after eating has numerous causes, most benign, but some may be serious. Mostly, it is due to some gastrointestinal upset.
Stomach ache after eating can be dull or sharp. The exact cause for your abdominal pain after eating can be easily detected with the timing of pain and the location of the pain. But if you have frequent or recurring stomach pain after eating, then you need to see a gastroenterologist.