Breathing difficulty usually means you have any underlying respiratory disease. The interesting thing is that it may not always happen due to a respiratory disease, especially if you experience difficulty breathing after eating.This may happen due to many other reasons and sometimes accompany additional symptoms, such as nervousness, rapid heartbeat, and chest pain. Sometimes, the symptoms you notice are due to an anxiety disorder, but on other occasions, your condition may point to a life-threatening illness. So, know your symptoms and learn when to see your doctor if you find it hard to breathe after eating.
Causes of Difficulty Breathing After Eating
Like mentioned, there can be several causes of why you're experiencing shortness of breath, but here are some of the most common reasons why you experience it soon after eating.
1. Chronic Illnesses
Your condition may be due to a chronic illness such as asthma. When you eat something, your body requires more oxygenated blood to digest food properly, which in turn exerts some pressure on your lungs to increase the supply of oxygen. If you already have a lung disease, you will experience troubled breathing soon after eating.
2. Eating Large Meals and Eating Too Fast
You will experience indigestion-breathingproblems if you eat large meals and eat too fast as well. Eating large meals will push your lungs in the upward direction that will cause breathing discomfort. The condition becomes worse when you eat too much of oily, greasy, or sugar food. This can turn into a life-threatening condition if you already have a chronic illness such as asthma or emphysema.
3. Food Allergies
If you are allergic to some food items and you eat them by mistake, you may experience breathing difficulties after eating. The interesting thing is that you may not even know you're allergic to a particular food item because these allergies usually appear out of nowhere and affect you only when you eat certain stuff.
4. GERD/Acid Reflux
If you're suffering from GERD or acid reflux disease, you may find yourself facing breathing difficulties soon after eating. It usually starts with acid reflux that gradually turns into gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD. Changing your lifestyle will usually help overcome this problem.
It is common to face certain respiratory issues after drinking alcohol. It usually happens because alcohol has depressing effects on your central nervous system, which in turn causes slow, shallow breaths. Sometimes, you may be allergic to certain ingredients included in alcohol, which may also trigger an allergic response and cause shortness of breath.
Arrythmia refers to an irregular heartbeat. Though the condition is harmless, it may produce a number of symptoms, including difficulty breathing after eating. Sometimes, you may witness severe arrhythmias and that's when you experience several additional symptoms such as fatigue, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, and fainting. In rare cases, the condition may also lead to cardiac arrest. It is usually a good idea to consult with your doctor to see if your condition actually needs some treatment or not. You may have to take medications and even undergo a surgical procedure to fix the issue.
7. Anxiety Disorders
Several psychological illnesses such as anxiety disorder may cause difficulty breathing after eating. The illness is characterized by paranoia, intense fear, restlessness and panic. The symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or phobias may vary greatly, but shortness of breath is usually common in all. If your anxiety involves weight, food, and other dietary issues, you may also notice some other symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, nausea, and intense fear. Sometimes, anxiety disorders lead to other disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, or binge-eating disorder. All these disorders may also cause shortness of breath after you eat your meals.
How to Deal With Difficulty Breathing After Eating
The first thing you can do to eradicate the issue is to make certain changes in your lifestyle. If you think you're slightly overweight, you should do something to lose your weight. It is equally important to avoid specific drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen – you may opt for acetaminophen though to relieve pain. Even if you're on medication, be sure to drink plenty of water daily.
You may consider taking OTC antacids after your meals – you can have one before going to bed to find some relief. Antacids are quite beneficial when it comes to treating heartburn because it alters your stomach acid to prevent indigestion. These drugs are not effective in conditions like appendicitis, ulcer, and bowel problems.
Can Difficulty Breathing After Eating Be Prevented?
You can definitely take some initiatives to avoid facing respiratory issues. Here are some steps you can take to prevent shortness of breath soon after eating.
- Take smaller meals more frequently
- Be sure to eat slowly
- Make sure to eat non-fatty foods
- Avoid drinking fizzy drinks
- Don't go to bed soon after eating
- Don't take antacid before taking your meals
- Avoid eating spicy foods
- Don't drink too much water or liquid between bites
- Be sure to visit your doctor for checkups to ensure your lungs and heart have no serious issues
Note: You should seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms also include fever above 101 Fahrenheit degrees, heavy wheezing, and severe coughing with blood. Ask someone to help you if you don't feel like driving.