What Causes Stomach Pain After Eating
Last reviewed: Medically reviewed
If your tummy hurts after eating, a simple bout of indigestion might be to blame. But there are also times when pain after eating can be a sign of something more serious.
Read on to learn about some of the common causes of stomach ache, abdominal pain or stomach cramps after eating, how to treat and manage the discomfort, and when to see a doctor.
Food Allergy Or Intolerance
Some people may be allergic to certain foods. These can irritate the stomach and may cause pain after eating.
An intolerance is a milder form of an allergy. Both allergies and intolerances can be caused by many different foods.
Common intolerances include gluten, wheat, and lactose.
People can keep a food diary if they think they might have an allergy.
A food diary is a written record of what they have consumed at each meal, including drinks and snacks. They should also include a note of when their stomach hurts.
Keeping a diary can help determine the foods causing an issue. People can then cut this food out of their diet.
Keep Your Belly Happy
A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help keep your digestive system healthy and your immune system strong and ready to fight off bugs that might upset your stomach. And watch for triggers â anything from foods that have acid like tomatoes, to fizzy drinks, to stress at work.
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You Might Have A Food Intolerance
If you find that your cramps keep happening after you eat certain things, you might have an intolerance to a specific food substance. Common culprits of intolerances are foods that are designated as fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols , which is a fancy designation for poorly-digested carbohydrates, Dr. Ahuja says. Examples include fruits like apples and pears, veggies like cauliflower and lentils, and dairy products. In fact, trouble processing lactose is the most common type of food intolerance, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
In addition to getting abdominal pain when you eat that particular food, you might also deal with symptoms like nausea, bloating, gas, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, and more, the Cleveland Clinic says. And keep in mind that different people can be intolerant to the same food to different extents. For example, Dr. Krishnareddy explains, someone who is mildly lactose intolerant may be able to digest cheese and yogurt but not a milky latte, whereas someone with a severe intolerance may not be able to digest any form of dairy very well.
Diagnosis Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
If examinations and tests are needed, these may include:
- a rectal exam to check for hidden blood or other problems
- if you are a man, the doctor may check your penis and scrotum
- if you are a woman, the doctor may do a pelvic exam to check for problems in your womb , fallopian tubes and ovaries, and do a pregnancy test
- a blood test to look for infection or bleeding
- other blood tests may look at enzymes in the liver, pancreas and heart to sort out which organ may be involved
- a urine test to look for a urine infection or blood
- an ECG to rule out a heart attack
- other tests, including x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan
- sometimes you may be referred to another doctor to help find the cause of the problem.
- endoscopy is an examination where a flexible tube with a light and video camera at the tip is used to examine some internal organs without the need for surgery. Different names are used depending on which organ is being looked at.
If you do have tests, the doctor will explain the results to you. Some results may take a number of days to come back and these will be sent to your local doctor.
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Diagnosis Of Stomach Pain After Meals
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your diet, lifestyle, and medical history. All of these can significantly affect the digestive system.
Doctors can use computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans to diagnose gastrointestinal pain, but it is not always easy to generate accurate images of the digestive system using these methods.
You Might Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is an umbrella term for two conditions that both cause chronic inflammation of various parts of the digestive tract: Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis. People with either type of IBD often experience periods of remission followed by flare-ups, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that Crohns disease usually affects the part of the small intestine that meets the large intestine, but the characteristic patches of inflammation it causes can be anywhere from the mouth to the rectum and seep through multiple layers of the G.I. lining. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, affects continuous portions of the large intestine and/or rectum, with the innermost lining becoming inflamed.
If you have Crohns disease, youre likely to deal with abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and weight loss, and might also have additional symptoms like fatigue, nausea, joint pain, and anemia, the NIDDK says. With ulcerative colitis, the most common symptoms are abdominal pain and diarrhea , the NIDDK notes, though you may also have issues such as fatigue, nausea, anemia, and an urgent need to use the bathroom.
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What Causes Abdominal Pain In Children
Common causes of abdominal pain in children include:
- trapped wind
- lower urinary tract problems, such as cystitis
Most abdominal pain is mild and will go away without treatment after a few days. However, your child should see a doctor if the pain is severe or doesnt go away, especially when they also have other symptoms, such as a fever. In this case, you should ensure they are monitored closely and they may need further medical assessment.
Other Causes: Stress Anxiety And Medication:
- Stress and Anxiety: Irritable Bowel Syndrome 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.
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When Should You Visit The Doctor
You should consult a doctor for stomach pain after eating if the pain is progressively increasing even if youve stopped eating.
If the pain is not letting you sit still or if you notice some symptoms like fever or vomiting, diarrhea lasting for more than two-three days, change in the color of your stool you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.
If you begin to experience symptoms of dehydration, which include dry mouth, dizziness, dry skin, and fatigue it might be an indication of a severe problem.
So before it does any harm to your health, you must seek medical consultation to solve the stomach hurts after eating problem.
Noisy Abdomen / Rumbling
A noisy gut does not always mean youre hungry. There may be other reasons why your stomach is churning and gurgling. The digestive system causes belly noises, known as borborygmi when fluids or air moves around your small and large intestines.
Borborygmi Definition: The term for the gurgling or rumbling noises made by the movement of gas and fluids in the intestines. During the process called peristalsis, the small intestine and stomach muscles contract and move contents forward in your gastrointestinal tract. These gas noises in stomach can occur both when the stomach is empty and when its full.
Peristalsis Definition: A series of wave-like contraction and relaxation of stomach muscles. Two hours after the stomach contents are emptied, the brain signals the digestive muscles to begin peristalsis again. The belly noises and contractions of an empty stomach can make you hungry. A noisy gut may be louder in this case because the intestines and stomach are empty the stomach noises and pain are not muffled. Take note that you may swallow a lot of air because of eating too fast or talking while eating. This can lead you to have louder stomach rumbles after eating.
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Colon Damage From Impaired Blood Flow
Acute intestinal ischemia means that the blood flow to the large and/or small intestines has been cut off. It is also called acute mesenteric ischemia, or AMI.
The ischemia is caused by blockage in one of the arteries leading into the abdomen, usually due to atherosclerosis or a blood clot.
Most susceptible are those with very high or low blood pressure heart disease or using illegal drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine.
Symptoms include sudden, severe pain in one area of the abdomen nausea and vomiting and repeated, urgent bowel movements, often with blood.
Acute intestinal ischemia is a life-threatening medical emergency. If it is suspected, take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.
Diagnosis is made through arteriogram, which involves injecting dye into the abdominal arteries under x-ray in order to find the exact location of the blockage.
Treatment involves “clot-busting” drugs to destroy a clot, or emergency surgery to remove whatever is causing the blockage and possibly some of the damaged intestine as well.
Top Symptoms: abdominal pain , nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, being severely ill
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
Why Is Fast Food Unhealthy
Fast foods are high in fat content and low in nutritional value. Fast foods offer very little fiber or nutrients , but they do offer lots of calories . They are typically made with refined grains , very few whole grains, little to no fruits or vegetables. This kind of diet may increase the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
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Why Is My Stomach Hurting
Your digestive tract is one of your bodys most vital systems-it takes your food on an amazing journey once your lunch leaves your lips. First, it travels down the esophagus to the stomach, where acids start breaking it down so your body can use it. After a few hours of digestion, your food then moves through the small intestine, where most of its nutrients are absorbed. After that, it carries on to the large intestine, finally making its grand exit. Although its a complicated process, digestion is designed to happen so seamlessly that we rarely notice how busily our bodies are working. Sometimes, however, things go wrong, bringing on uncomfortable abdominal pain. Here are a few reasons why your belly may be aching-from simple to serious:
Treatments For Stomach Pain After Meals
Mild cases are usually treated at home without too much trouble. Doctors recommend putting yourself on a light diet, eating in frequent but small amounts for 24 to 36 hours until you can tolerate more substantial foods. Sports drinks, soups and broths, and juices are highly recommended.
More serious cases are treated with a range of therapies. Doctors look for structural or functional problems in the digestive tract itself to identify and treat the problem at its source. Various interventions may be employed in that case, such as:
- Intravenous drug infusion
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First Up: Is It Actually Your Stomach That Hurts
Before we get into the most common causes of a crampy middle after eating, lets clear up something many of us have been unknowingly getting wrong since we were kids. When you say your stomach hurts, chances are youre talking about the part of your torso between your chest and your hips. This part of your body is technically your abdomen. Your stomach starts a bit under your chest on your left side and extends down into the middle of your torso.
Its no surprise, then, that figuring out exactly what hurts in this general area can be tricky. There are organs that overlap, Nitin Ahuja, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of clinical medicine in the gastroenterology department in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, tells SELF. The small intestine occupies a lot of space, and the colon sort of drapes around the entire abdomen and overlaps of the stomach as well.
Also, depending on what is going on, the nerves in the abdomen may not be as good at localizing pain, Dr. Ahuja says, so it might be hard to tell where the pain is coming from. Keep all of this in mind as you try to figure out what might be causing your post-eating cramps. Now, for the next bit of background information you need to know, since high school biology was a long time ago for some of us
Upper Abdominal Pain Between The Ribcage
If you develop an aching or stabbing pain or pressure in the upper abdominal area just under the ribs, this may indicate a heart-related problem. Physicians say this pain is often accompanied by shortness of breath and is concerning if the pain persists. People often assume this type of pain is indigestion, and while that may be the case, anyone with risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension should see a doctor as soon as possible.
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Urgent Advice: Speak To Your Gp As Soon As Possible If:
- you have severe abdominal pain, especially if it’s concentrated in one area
- the pain starts suddenly or unexpectedly
If your GP is closed, phone 111.
Serious causes of sudden severe abdominal pain include:
- appendicitis the swelling of the appendix means your appendix will need to be removed
- a bleeding or perforated stomach ulcer
- acute cholecystitis inflammation of the gallbladder, which may need to be removed
- kidney stones small stones may be passed out in your urine, but larger stones may block the kidney tubes, and you’ll need to go to hospital to have them broken up
- diverticulitis inflammation of the small pouches in the bowel that sometimes requires treatment with antibiotics in hospital
If your GP suspects you have one of these conditions, they may refer you to hospital immediately.
Sudden and severe pain in your abdomen can also sometimes be caused by an infection of the stomach and bowel . It may also be caused by a pulled muscle in your abdomen or by an injury.
Sudden Stomach Cramps With Diarrhoea
If your stomach cramps have started recently and you also have diarrhoea, the cause may be a tummy bug . This means you have a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and bowel. It should get better without treatment after a few days.
Gastroenteritis may be caused by:
- coming into close contact with someone who’s infected
- eating contaminated food
If you have repeated bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhoea, you may have a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome .
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Dont Eat Yogurt With Fruit Or Cheese Eggs Fish Hot Drinks Meat And Milk
This is a deadly combination. Dr. Vasant Lad says Many fruits create a sour and indigestible wine in your stomach when mixed with other food.
I passed this information to a very dear friend of mine who had been eating yogurt and fruit for 20 plus years. This is what he said Steve, I cannot thank you enough. I always thought that I was eating a healthy breakfast of yogurt and fruitbut I always had this slightly sour taste and uneasy feeling. It never crossed my mind that it was this combination.
What Is Discomfort After Food
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If Your Stomach Hurts Suddenly
Acute stomach pain comes on quickly and lasts for a limited amount of time, typically a few hours to a few days. It’s usually caused by external factors, like a particular food or contaminant that didn’t agree with your stomach. Even people with completely healthy digestive tracts will experience occasional stomach pain.