Contributed by- Dr. Snehal Singh
Do you have abdominal pain after eating? Is it a dull sensation in the entire belly or a sharp pain felt in a specific part of your abdomen? If you relate to this kind of pain in stomach, fret not! You would be relieved to know that it is a common problem indeed. Many people complain that their stomach cramps while eating, while many have a sharp stomach pain after eating. Stomach ache is often related to the food you eat, gastric problems, allergies and in females, it could also be pain during menstruation. Some people can experience stomach cramps and diarrhoea after eating. It is hence important to identify the pain, the actual cause behind it and to cure the actual reason for a healthier you.
Causes of Stomach Pain after Eating
Stomach pain can be felt in the upper region, lower abdomen or overall abdomen, depending on the underlying cause.
Upper Stomach Pain after Eating
Some of the causes of upper stomach pain after eating include indigestion, reflux disease, gastritis, stomach ulcers and problems of the food pipe. These are commonly associated with burning in the throat, regurgitation of food, nausea and even vomiting. Stomach ulcers can cause stomach pain in a specific area that you can easily point out.
Such pain may become worse on lying down or bending forwards. Infection, faulty dietary habits or hot, spicy foods can also trigger upper stomach pain. It is important to diagnose and treat these problems before they worsen.
Liver problems and gallstones too can cause upper stomach pain after eating. In this, the pain is more in the upper, right side of the abdomen, under the ribs.
- Liver problems are often presented with yellowish discolouration or jaundice, dark yellow urine and sometimes white coloured stools.
- Gallstones can cause severe upper stomach pain after eating, pain radiating to the right shoulder or back, jaundice and vomiting. Gallstone pain can be triggered by eating fatty, rich food making it difficult to digest.
Lower Abdominal Pain after Eating
Many people complaint, “every time I eat my stomach hurts and I have diarrhoea”. If you are one of those, you would like to watch your diet. Stomach cramps and diarrhoea after eating are caused by eating foods that your stomach cannot tolerate. It is commonly experienced in stomach infections or viral gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and worm infestations.
- Viral infections cause gastric disturbances, with fever, body pain and sometimes cold and cough.
- Irritable bowel syndrome is seen in people who are sensitive to changes in diet, sleep, and lifestyle. In such cases, late dinners, fatty or spicy food, stimulants and even stress can trigger stomach pain after eating.
Complaints like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation are often associated with lower abdominal pain after eating. Milk allergies and intolerance, other food allergies easily cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea after eating. Infections that affect the gastrointestinal tract, like typhoid and malaria, can also cause pain in the lower abdomen.
Common causes of lower abdominal pain after eating also include indigestion, wind, food poisoning, constipation and appendicitis.
- Food poisoning, with a history of eating contaminated food in the past few hours, is often accompanied by vomiting and diarrhoea,
- Constipation is a common condition, when the bowels are not cleared properly, causing discomfort and lower abdominal pain after eating. Excessive wind, bloating and cramping may also be seen.
- Appendicitis, is another condition, with vomiting and severe pain in lower abdomen. This needs to be treated at the earliest to avoid complications.
Other Causes of Stomach Pain after Eating
If your stomach hurts while eating, kidney stones, and urine infection should also be considered. Pain is mostly felt in the middle back, just behind the kidneys, which may radiate to lower abdomen in the front. There may be other urinary symptoms, pain or burning during urination or passing of bloody urine and fever.
Worm infections can cause stomach pain, with cramping, bloating and sometimes diarrhoea. In this, you may feel hungrier, have gastric problems and may even lose some weight. Sometimes deworming can cause discomfort and stomach pain after eating. This may be your body’s reaction to deworming but can be worse, if proper attention is not given. Hence, it is best to take medicines with proper medical advice.
Heat stroke, which is a loss of fluids and electrolytes, too can lead to stomach pain after eating. Heat stroke usually occurs due to extreme summers, overheating, exercising too much and sweating. This is presented with muscle cramps in abdomen, arms and legs, particularly calves.
Period pain and pelvic inflammatory disease too can cause lower abdominal pain after eating in women. It may be associated with nausea, vomiting and menstrual irregularities or excessive bleeding.
What to do if you have regular stomach pain?
If you have severe stomach pain after eating or if the problem persists for long, it is best to seek a medical opinion. Some causes of stomach pain may be serious and may need immediate treatment. Get tested for related infections at the earliest to avoid further problems as some conditions may need appropriate investigations to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests, stool examination and scans are commonly done to find the underlying cause of stomach pain after eating. So, watch your symptoms. If your stomach hurts while eating, it is best to take a medical opinion.
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