Feeling sick after eating is having a feeling of nausea, stomach discomfort, and pain in the abdomen after eating. This can be due to many reasons. It can also point towards food sensitivity or eating too much.
However, persistent pain can indicate gallstones, stomach ulcers, or a more serious condition.
A person can prevent stomach aches by eating a balanced diet and adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet. If the stomach aches do not get better despite making changes in the diet, it may be due to a medical condition.
Why Does a Person Feel Sick After Eating?
There are different reasons that can hurt a person’s stomach after eating.
Foods That Can Cause Discomfort After Eating
Stomach pain is a common symptom of food poisoning along with vomiting, diarrhea, lack of energy, and high temperature.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from food poisoning every year.(1)
These symptoms appear a few hours after eating but take many days to resolve. The symptoms can be treated at home with rest and fluids.
Acidic foods can cause stomach irritation. These include processed foods, fruit juices, and tomatoes.
Cutting down on fruit juices and replacing them with water can help in cutting down stomach pain.
Trapped wind can also be a reason for discomfort after eating. The stomach may feel uncomfortable and stretched and there would be a sharp pain.
There are sugary drinks and certain foods including onions, beans, cabbage, and broccoli that may cause wind and bloating.
Also chewing gums and sucking sweets. or eating with an open mouth can lead to swallowing of air, and can be other causes of wind.
Chilies are used to flavor spicy foods. They contain capsaicin which can cause a hot and burning sensation. It may irritate the sensitive part of the body including the stomach. This may cause a feeling of sickness after eating.
A person can have indigestion after eating and drinking anything that may not be fresh or easy to digest by the body. This may lead to feeling bloated and sick.
Stomach acid helps in breaking down food. Sometimes this acid may irritate the lining of the stomach and lead to indigestion.
Indigestion may get worse with fatty food, caffeine, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Over-the-counter medications can be helpful in easing the discomfort due to indigestion.
Caffeine present in tea or coffee may irritate the stomach lining in some people.
If this is the case, alternative hot drinks can be chosen, which include decaffeinated tea and coffee, and hot water with slice of lemon and fruit teas.
Eating too Much
Overfilling the stomach regularly may be a cause of discomfort.
If a person is uncomfortable after eating, it may be a sign that a person is eating too much.
Medical Condition Causing Sickness After Eating
Certain medical conditions may also be the cause of discomfort after eating.
Heartburn is gastroesophageal reflux and is also known as acid reflux. About 20% of the adult population in the western world is commonly affected by acid reflux.(2)
It occurs as the acid comes up from the stomach into the food pipe. There is a burning sensation in the chest, throat, and also in the stomach.
Eliminating spicy foods and alcohol can be helpful in preventing flare-ups.
In gastritis, the lining of the stomach gets inflamed leading to stomach pain, sickness, vomiting, and indigestion.
Mild gastritis can be treated at home and with medications. One can also ease the stomach by eating smaller meals and cutting acidic foods.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is the inflammation of the gut, which leads to a range of symptoms including stomach pain.
A person with IBD may require long-term treatment with medication and lifestyle changes.
Stones in the gall bladder may cause sudden and sharp pain which may increase 2 hours after eating.(3) Treatment of the condition may include medication or surgery.
The treatment of gallstones depends on the severity of the condition.
A stomach ulcer is a sore that develops in the stomach lining, which causes burning pain in the middle of the stomach.
Stomach ulcers can occur due to infection or medications such as aspirin (on taking for a long period of time).
These can be treated with acid-suppressing medication and antibiotics.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
In irritable bowel syndrome, the digestive system is affected. There may be constipation and diarrhea causing stomach cramps and bloating. It is known to be the most commonly diagnosed condition.(4)
The symptoms may last for days and weeks and even months. It may or may not occur with eating.
Inflammatory bowel disease has no cure but lifestyle changes may help. These include:
- Getting plenty of exercises
- Eating slowly
- Keeping away from fatty and processed foods
- Eating meals at regular timings
- Avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol
There are various food choices and medical conditions that may lead to feeling sick or discomfort after eating. Someone experiencing regular discomfort should speak with the doctor to find the cause and get treated.