Nausea after eating is definitely a discomforting feeling that may be normal if it occurs occasionally or as a result of overeating. However, if the feeling persists for a longer period of time, it indicates a possible pathology involving digestive system or other systems of the body. It is important to realize that vomiting or nausea isn't a disease but instead a possible symptom or indication of an underlying psychological or physiological problem that may be associated with any of the following causes.
Causes of Nausea after Eating
Below is a list of a few common causes that may present with nausea after eating:
1. Food Poisoning
The research conducted by the center of Disease Control & Prevention suggest that food poisoning is one of the leading causes of hospital admissions due to nausea and vomiting experienced after meals. The symptoms usually begins after consumption of food contaminated with prepared toxins or pathogenic agents that produce toxins after gaining access to gastro- intestinal system. Most common associated symptoms are vomiting, fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
- Do not eat solid food until your symptoms resolve.
- Make sure to continue bland and light foods like bread, rice, bananas, and salt- crackers for a few days after resolution of symptoms.
- Avoid over- consumption of spicy, greasy, fried and sweet foods.
- Do not consider taking medications without consulting doctor.
- Drink plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration.
Immediately call doctor if your symptoms
- Last more than 3 days.
- Develop after eating mushrooms or sea food.
- Associated with high- spiking fever, vomiting and altered level of consciousness.
- You are experiencing blood in stool (or dark/ black tarry stools).
- You are developing signs of extreme dehydration like dry mouth, lower frequency and volume of urination, fatigue or elevated heart and breathing rate.
2. Viral Gastroenteritis
Viral Gastroenteritis is a viral infection which infects intestines and stomach. Viral gastroenteritis develop when the person consume contaminated foods leading to nausea and vomiting along with watery diarrhea. Other associated symptoms of illness are fever, electrolyte imbalance (if diarrhea and vomiting is severe and interfering with the food intake) and crampy abdominal pain.
It has been observed that most cases of viral gastroenteritis resolve spontaneously without requiring any medical or pharmacological treatment. But in severe cases, immediate medical intervention can prevent complications.
- Increase your water intake to make up for the lost fluids
- With severe diarrhea and vomiting, there is always a risk of electrolyte imbalance and resulting complications. In all such cases, oral rehydration and replacement of electrolytes is indicated by the use of commercially available rehydration products.
- Maintain a healthy diet during and after the illness that is prepared in hygienic environment.
3. Stress and Anxiety
Scientifically, it has been proved that human emotions can significantly influence bodily functions by releasing certain hormones and chemical mediators. While eating if a person is excited, anxious or stressed, it may directly affect the secretion of certain mediators from the digestive system that can alter the patency of sphincters leading to nausea after eating.
- Keep yourself hydrated and do not eat anything for at least 30 to 60 minutes post- vomiting.
- Peppermint tea or ginger gives a soothing relief from nausea and vomiting.
- Take medications for nausea and vomiting only after discussing with a healthcare provider.
- Relax yourself and manage your emotions by meditating or breathing deep.
- Change your lifestyle habits and pay special consideration to your bowel movements. Long standing constipation may also present with nausea after eating.
If you suffer from frequent nausea and vomiting without any recognizable explanation, seek medical help.
4. Peptic Ulcer
The most common cause of peptic ulcer is bacterium Helicobacter pylori invasion or prolonged consumption of pain killers. The main symptom of this problem is the burning pain in the epigastric region when the stomach is empty. It may also trigger mild nausea after eating.
- Select a healthy diet plan with frequent intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in between the meals.
- Take full control of your stress as it can make the problem worse.
- Quit smoking and limit your intake of alcohol as it can irritate the lining of intestines and stomach to further increase the secretion of stomach acid.
5. Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, as the name suggest is the regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus due to low patency of stomach valves. The major symptoms include bloating, burping, and nausea.
- Quit smoking and limit the exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental pollutants.
- Take small and frequent meals.
- Raise your head side of bed about 4 to 6 inches.
- Do not eat 2 to 3 hours before sleeping.
- Avoid wearing fitted clothed and tight belts.
- If you are obese then try to lose weight.
- Consult the doctor for medication of your heartburn or for other symptoms.
Indigestion can also cause nausea after eating. It is also known as dyspepsia. It causes when there is an obstruction in digestive process. Other causes may include consumption of greasy and fatty foods, overeating, emotional stress and consumption of carbonated beverages. In other cases indigestion is cause by condition like stomach cancer or gallstone.
Indigestion can be treated by doing changes in your lifestyle, reduce your stress and do not use too much drugs. Ask your doctor for best results.
7. Food Allergies
Food allergies are caused by body immune system in response of some abnormal food that we eat. Food like fish, peanuts, shellfish, walnuts and tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat etc. can cause food allergies.
Wear an auto injector device or a medical alert necklace. The best treatment is to avoid the food which causes allergy and eliminate it completely from your diet.
Pregnancy hormones decreases the motility of gut and therefore increases the risk of nausea after vomiting and other associated symptoms like heart burn and constipation. All the symptoms are temporary and resolve spontaneously after childbirth.
Lifestyle modifications and diet management can control the symptoms to a great deal.
- Consume small portions at a time.
- Avoid lying down immediately after meals.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages and maintain absolute abstinence from alcohol.
When to See a Doctor
Immediately call your doctor
- If you are experiencing severe, intractable vomiting and diarrhea that is unresponsive to home remedies
- If your symptoms are interfering with your dietary intake of fluids and foods.
- If you are experiencing issues with urination (passage of inadequate volume of urine indicating severe dehydration).
If you are developing serious issues like:
- Chest pain
- Cramping and abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Feeling cold
- Pale skin