It is no fun to suffer from feeling sick after eating. You may have no nausea prior to the meal but will experience the symptoms right after eating. Most of the time, the nausea is self-limited and doesn't indicate anything severe, but, if it is persistent, you should see your doctor. Here we list the 10 most common reasons that can lead to your sick feeling after eating.
10 + Common Causes of Feeling Sick After Eating
1. Food Allergies
A minor cause of nausea after eating is having a food allergy. Common food allergies are caused by shellfish, iodine, wheat products, dairy products or nuts. When you eat foods you are allergic to, your body reacts by causing various symptoms including nausea. You may not be born with allergies to food but can develop them at any time. Be prepared to have things like hives and possibly throat sensations when you have an allergy while being nauseous after eating is one of the more common symptoms you might experience after suffering from a food allergy.
2. Bacterial Food Poisoning
Food and water can be contaminated with bugs like E. coli, Giardia species, and Shigella species. These are bugs that can contaminate food and/or water. If you think you are suffering from bacterial food poisoning, give your bowel a rest except for clear liquids that you need to avoid becoming dehydrated.
3. Viral Infection
You can get gastroenteritis that is caused by a mild bug infection and will show symptoms including feeling sick after eating. These bugs are usually self-limiting so that you suffer from nausea, vomiting or diarrhea for only a few days before you recover. If you get a viral bug, drink clear liquids to keep hydrated and introduce food only when you begin to feel better.
4. Psychological Worries
You can actually "make yourself sick" by dealing with stress and depression in your life. When this happens, you become nauseous after eating because you are activating your autonomic nervous system in response to a meal. You actually worry yourself into a "fight or flight" response that triggers things like rapid heartbeat, rapid respiration and nausea because your blood has been shunted toward your muscles and not to your gastrointestinal tract, which can make you feel nauseous, especially after eating. This type of feeling sick after eating isn't dangerous, but it could become problematic if you continue to have it.
5. Long Time Between Meals
If too much time has passed between your meals, you allow excess acid to build up between eating episodes so that when you finally eat, you have too much acidity in the stomach and you feel sick after eating. It is easily fixed by eating small, frequent meals so that the stomach acid is always diluted out by a little bit of non-acidic food to avoid feeling sick after eating. It can really make a difference in your comfort level after meals.
Nausea from pregnancy can happen on an empty stomach or after eating. There can be certain foods, especially high fat foods and meat, which can trigger nausea following a meal. This is why there are some foods that a pregnant woman just can't stomach. Try eating several small, bland meals throughout the day and avoid fatty foods that will make your situation feel much worse.
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It will usually cause the sensation of a burning in your chest because the acid has come up through the stomach sphincter into the esophagus, which doesn't tolerate being in an acidic environment. You can also have heartburn symptoms that can occur with or without meals as well as during your sleep. It is a good idea to put the head of your bed up about 4-6 inches so that you don't have acid coming up into your esophagus when you sleep. Feeling sick after eating in with this problem is not that common, but in some patients, it can be severe or frequent.
8. Suffering from Indigestion
This is a minor cause of sickness after eating. Indigestion is a vague feeling of burning pain and excess gas in the stomach caused by not really digesting your food the way you are supposed to. Indigestion can be managed by eating slower, and staying away from acidic foods which can only make it more difficult to digest foods and can contribute to excess nausea. Try an antacid that also decreases gas in the stomach.
9. Irritable Bowel Disease
Those with irritable bowel disease will have problems including feeling sick after eating. Eating promotes irritability in the bowel so that you can get constipation or diarrhea after meals. Sometimes, the diarrhea can alternate with constipation. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, eat foods that are high in fiber and avoid smoking and drinking coffee.
10. More Severe Causes
Except the abovementioned causes of feeling sick after eating, there are some serious underlying causes that require seeing a doctor as soon as possible. These include:
- If you develop right lower quadrant abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, seek medical attention right away as this could represent appendicitis that needs a doctor's attention.
- Cholecystitis or an infected gallbladder can also contribute to nausea that needs a doctor's care. You will have right upper quadrant abdominal pain that is usually worse after eating fatty foods with this disease.
- Rarely, cancer of the stomach can cause nausea after meals. If you have black stools or weight loss along with you nausea, seek a doctor's care.
When Should You See a Doctor?
While feeling sick after eating is generally benign, there are situations in which your symptoms will be so significant that you need to seek a doctor's advice. These include:
- If you are becoming dehydrated or malnourished as a result of your symptoms.
- If your vomiting and diarrhea are so severe that you can't keep anything down.
- If you are urinating less than one ounce per hour.
- If your symptoms are associated with abdominal pain, chest pain, blurry vision, faintness, paleness or chills.