Manhattan Gastroenterology
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Recurring stomach pain after eating is not good and maybe a sign of chronic indigestion or an underlying medical condition that needs to be checked by a specialist. Gas, bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain can affect your routine life and eating habits to a large extent. The gastrointestinal specialists at Manhattan Gastroenterology use the latest technological advancements to find out what may be wrong with your digestive system and come up with the best treatment options for your specific symptoms. The top-rated gastro doctors diagnose and treat your ailment, provide quick relief to protect your gastrointestinal health, and help you feel better in the shortest possible time.

Stomach Pain After Eating
Stomach Pain After Eating

Stomach pain or gastrointestinal discomfort after eating a meal is not dangerous if you know what is causing it and subsides on its own. Most people report bloating, a swollen stomach, feeling full quickly, and diarrhea, which is quite normal if it is happening from overeating, consuming something undercooked, or contaminated. However, if you continue to experience ongoing discomfort despite making lifestyle and dietary changes, it may be some medical issue that needs to be checked.

There is a strong connection between food and diet, gastrointestinal and mental health, and chronic gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. It is up to you to focus on factors that affect your digestive system and avoid triggers that lead to stomach pain.

7 Causes of Stomach Pain After Eating

If you experience gastrointestinal discomfort frequently after eating food, it may be something serious that needs professional help. A gastroenterologist can help you find out more about the causes of stomach aches and even recommend an effective treatment plan based on your symptoms.

Following are the most common causes of stomach pain after eating:

1. A Food Allergy or Intolerance

Food allergies and intolerances are the most common reason behind stomach pain after eating. Symptoms such as gas, bloating, unusual burps, cramping, and diarrhea indicate that you have eaten something that has not digested well in your stomach.

Allergies occur when the body mistakes some food for a harmful foreign invader, and your immune system releases antibodies to fight it. This immune response can cause an array of symptoms. Common allergens include:

  • Eggs
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Food intolerance occurs when the digestive system gets irritated by a particular food or cannot digest it properly. Unlike an allergy, there is no immune system response involved in food intolerance which results when your stomach cannot process specific foods or ingredients.
Foods that are known to cause intolerance include:

  • Lactose – sensitivity to milk or dairy products
  • Gluten – a protein that is present in grains such as wheat, barley, and others
  • FODMAPs – sensitivity to foods that contain different types of fermentable carbohydrates

If these intolerances are not significant, these conditions can go undiagnosed for years. If you notice signs of stomach pain every time you consume a specific food item, it may be coming from an allergy or intolerance and must be tested by a doctor.

2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder that affects the large intestine, also called the colon. It may result from an overly sensitive colon or immune system or in some cases, a previous bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract that acts up due for any reason. IBS can cause bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and other negative gastrointestinal symptoms that often become irritating and affect your normal activities if you do not seek treatment. Some people also suffer from fatigue and difficulty sleeping due to their unusual signs.

Detecting and treating IBS is not easy. At times, you may experience constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of both. Symptoms can last for days, weeks, and even months and may not always occur right after eating. Keep an eye on what causes stomach pain after you have eaten, or if any particular foods are triggering the problem.

IBS is a chronic condition and requires long-term management, often through dietary changes combined with medication. Consult your gastro doctor if you experience frequent IBS symptoms for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

3. Gastritis

Gastritis is a broad term for inflammation or swelling of the stomach lining. It can be caused by infection, overuse of pain medications (NSAIDs), injuries, spicy foods, acidic vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes and lemons, too much smoking, and overuse of alcohol. Gastritis can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and an overall feeling of indigestion and weakness. Signs of gastritis can come on suddenly or gradually, depending on how they are affecting you.

Think about what foods or medications are causing your discomforting symptoms after eating. Mild gastritis can be cured at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to diet. It is observed that cutting down on acidic or fatty foods, coffee, carbonated drinks, and eating smaller meals throughout the day also helps.

4. Celiac disease

It is a chronic digestive disorder characterized by the inability to digest a protein found in gluten called gliadin. People with celiac disease will immediately react to gluten and experience stomach aches after eating. It is because foods that contain gluten can damage the small intestine and immune system. It can result in mild to severe stomach pain accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas, anemia, growth issues as well as mood changes.

Gluten is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease is different from intolerance to gluten because the immune system is involved in the reaction. If it is not diagnosed and treated timely, it can damage the stomach lining, and affect the body’s ability to absorb the necessary nutrients that are vital for a healthy body and normal growth. Damage to the lining of the stomach or small intestine can lead to other serious complications too. Celiac disease is often genetic and diagnosed with a blood test.

5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease refers to a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract and result in stomach pain. Inflammation of the intestinal tract or abnormal immune response can cause Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis that lead to problems such as cramping, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, fatigue, and blood in the stool.

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a serious and chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It causes inflammation in different parts of the digestive tract, which can lead to severe pain in the stomach, diarrhea, and bloody stools, with other symptoms. It is a severe condition that can turn life-threatening if it is not treated timely.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is another type of IBD. It is a condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally, causing inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of your large intestine. The inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can be severe, and as a result, when you eat food, you experience stomach pain.

Research reveals that no specific foods cause UC, but there may be some foods that can worsen the symptoms. It is a long-term condition that can be managed with changes in lifestyle and medication.

If you have any of these conditions and feel pain in your stomach after every meal, it is time to speak to your doctor about it.

6. GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive condition in which the acid that is meant to digest the food, from the stomach, flows up into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn. It particularly occurs if you have been eating spicy or greasy foods. The main sign of GERD is a gnawing or burning sensation in the stomach after eating. Other symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, and bloating.

The backflow or reflux of acid irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the throat or pain with swallowing. You may feel as if your food is coming back up and also experience chest pain due to the intensity of the heartburn. If it is not addressed timely, it can lead to complications, including the inflammation of the esophagus that makes it difficult for you to eat.

7. Overeating

When you eat too much or something difficult to digest, it can result in stomach pain. Before thinking about what would be wrong with you or if any underlying medical issue is causing the discomforting symptoms, focus on what you have been eating for the last 24 hours.

The following can result in stomach pain after eating:

  • Eating a large portion of food
  • Eating acidic, spicy, or fried foods
  • Eating something high in artificial sugar
  • Eating too fast without chewing the food

These types of foods, especially when consumed in large portions and later at night, are tough to digest and can result in painful symptoms. Metabolism slows down with age, medications, and other factors, and you must avoid overeating to prevent discomforting sensations. Take your time and chew slowly, as you eat, to prevent overindulging.

Knowing the possible causes of stomach pain after eating can help you better understand your condition and monitor your symptoms. Eating a balanced, and healthy diet that contains a good portion of fresh fruits and vegetables can help keep stomach pain away. Cutting down on fatty or spicy foods and reducing the intake of sugary drinks or caffeine can help too.

When to See a Doctor for Your Stomach Pain?

Stomach pain after eating that results from overeating or indigestion is not very serious and can be treated with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. However, persistent pain accompanied by other symptoms that do not seem to be getting better may be something concerning.

If you have any medical conditions that can cause stomach pain, you should call your doctor. If the stomach pain continues to occur right after you eat or while you are eating, and lifestyle and diet changes are not working, it may be something serious or deeper, and medical attention becomes necessary. It could be some undetected health issue that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of digestive conditions, schedule an appointment at Manhattan Gastroenterology today. The experienced and award-winning gastroenterologists offer expert advice regarding matters of the gastrointestinal tract and help you find relief from the pain and discomfort you experience right after eating food. They specialize in diagnosing and treating pain that affects your gastrointestinal tract and offers a variety of treatments, including medications and home remedies to protect you from gastrointestinal damage. The top-rated doctor’s study why you feel uncomfortable or your stomach hurts after eating, including food and medical causes, and come up with the best solutions to ensure you enjoy healthy digestion.

Updated on Aug 27, 2022 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology