10 Reasons Why You Experience Stomach Pain After Eating
There is never a good time to have stomach pain, but it is especially unpleasant after eating. Thomas Vanderheyden, DO, a gastroenterologist at Michiana Gastroenterology, says that food allergies in adults are not very common. You may think that a certain food is to blame, but food allergies in adults are pretty uncommon. He says it can take time to figure out which foods are making your stomach pain. It’s important to consult a doctor about your eating habits and any symptoms that might be causing you distress. Work with your doctor or a registered dietitian to work out a plan that will work best for you.
As you might have guessed, dyspepsia, which is just a fancy word for indigestion, is one of the most common reasons for stomach pain after eating. Scott Gabbard, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic, says that people with dyspepsia have stomach pain, bloating, and a feeling of being full after they eat. Ashkan Farhadi, MD, a gastroenterologist at Memorial Care Orange Coast Medical Center and the director of Memorial Care Medical Group’s Digestive Disease Project in Fountain Valley, California, says that indigestion usually subsides on its own. However, if your stomach still pains after you eat, it could be because of something else.
Does your stomach regularly pain after you eat? You might want to consider whether one of these health problems could be the reason.
1 Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an immune response to eating gluten that can affect people who have it differently. Dr. Bedford says that one of the side effects is stomach pain after eating gluten. A mild gluten intolerance means your body has trouble digesting gluten and can also make your stomach ache, but this is not the same as celiac disease. When a person with celiac eats gluten, it damages their small intestine. On the other hand, a person with a gluten intolerance might get diarrhea or gas after eating gluten. Consult your doctor to figure out what might have gone wrong.
Dr. Vanderheyden says that if you have gastroparesis, also called “slow stomach,” your stomach muscles are partially paralyzed, which makes it hard to digest food. This makes the food remain in your stomach longer. Eventually, your stomach will no longer be able to hold and digest the accumulating food, which can lead to stomach cramps or spasms. You might also feel sick or throw up.
Most cases happen on their own, usually after a stomach virus or bacterial infection. However, Dr. Vanderheyden says that a recent infection with COVID-19 has also been linked to gastroparesis. If you have this problem, you should eat smaller meals more often. This makes it easier for food to move out of your stomach. You might also want to avoid high-fiber foods like oranges, broccoli, beets, and celery and eat cooked fruits and vegetables instead of raw ones. Your doctor may also give you medicine to help stimulate your stomach muscles and make you feel less nauseous.
3 Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
This condition, also called GERD, happens when stomach acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, causing heartburn and stomach pain. Rudolph Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says you’re more likely to have GERD if you overeat or like spicy foods. This lets acid flow up into your esophagus, which can be very painful.
If you think you have GERD, try cutting back on spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, and take over-the-counter (OTC) antacids to help with the symptoms. If that doesn’t work either, you should visit your doctor.
4 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a disorder of the intestines that can cause stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. It can show up in different ways, but Dr. Farhadi says it can cause stomach pain after you eat. If your stomach hurts after you eat and you have trouble going to the bathroom or staying regular, you should see your doctor to get checked for IBS.