Feeling dizziness after eating meals is common in the elderly, affecting about one-third of older men and women. It is not so common in younger people. This condition, also known as postprandial hypotension, can cause a dizzy feeling, or lightheadedness, which may lead to fainting or falling. Experiencing dizziness and fatigue occasionally after eating meals may not be a cause for concern, but if you are experiencing lightheadedness more often, it is important to consult your doctor.
Causes of Dizziness after Eating
When someone is experiencing dizziness after eating, he/she may don't pay much attention to this condition. However, there are a wide variety of underlying causes that can trigger this condition, including overall health conditions, potential diseases, foods that one have eaten and medicine which one have taken.
There are many possible causes for dizziness especially in the elderly, of which the most common is postprandial hypotension. This condition indicates a drop of blood pressure (hypotension) after eating a meal (postprandial).
Blood circulates throughout the body, but there is usually an increase in blood flow in an area of the body where there is greatest activity. This is called the butterfly effect, where a small change in one area has a big effect on another area. Digestion is a complicated process, which requires a lot of blood flow to the organs performing the task, and this involves the stomach and intestines. To bring more blood to these large organs, the heart must pump faster and divert the blood flow from other parts of the body to the abdominal organs. As this happens, the blood vessels in other parts of the body normally contract to reduce blood flow, which is redirected to the intestines. This is the usual way the body maintains normal blood pressure.
In some people, especially the elderly, the heart is not able to increase its rate during digestion; sometimes the blood vessels in other parts of the body fail to constrict while blood flow is being diverted to the abdominal organs. These cause a fall in blood pressure after eating meals, which is known as postprandial hypotension. The sudden drop in blood pressure is felt as lightheadedness or dizziness after eating a meal, which may lead to loss of consciousness in severe cases. This condition is usually associated with other medical conditions that affect the body's ability to maintain normal blood pressure, such as diabetes, hypertension, or Parkinson's disease.
The inflammation of the lining of the stomach is called gastritis. Dizziness and fatigue after eating meals are common symptoms of gastritis. This condition may be caused by irregularity in eating meals, consuming improperly cooked food, excessive eating of oily foods, overeating, alcohol intake, and drinking strong coffee or tea.
Disorders of the Labyrinth
The labyrinth is a part of the inner ear, which provides the individual a sense of balance. Any disorder that disturbs the labyrinth affects its function in maintaining balance, which may lead to dizziness after eating. Disorders of the labyrinth include labyrinthitis, benign positional vertigo, and Meniere's disease.
The blood vessels in older people often harden due to the formation of plaque or cholesterol deposits. This condition, also known as atherosclerosis affects blood pressure maintenance, which may make people feel dizzy after eating.
A healthy heart is needed to pump blood faster during digestion. Certain heart conditions can lead to its inability to send enough blood to the abdominal organs, which may lead to a drop in blood pressure, resulting in dizziness and sometimes, nausea.
Thyroid Gland Disorders
Certain thyroid gland disorders such as thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) may lead to dizziness after eating. Under activity of the thyroid or hypothyroidism may also cause you to feel dizzy and tired after eating.
Renal diseases affect the body's ability to maintain normal blood pressure and may manifest in symptoms that include dizziness after eating. Eating processed foods and other salty food often can worsen kidney disease and lead to symptoms like lightheadedness and fatigue.
Certain emotional conditions such as worry, stress, tension, grief, and depression can lead to symptoms like dizziness after meals. The symptoms may be worse in certain eating disorders like anorexia.
Foods that Cause Dizziness
There are certain foods that can cause one to feel dizzy after eating, such as:
- Fatty foods like milk, meat, cheese, mayonnaise and shortening
- Raw food
- Seafood containing toxins like certain shellfish
- Fried junk foods like corn dogs, and French fries
- Salty food like chips, pretzels, salted nuts, deli meat and cold cuts
- Some salad dressings or sauces with a high salt content, such as soy sauce
- Canned foods
- Pickled vegetables
- Baking powder
- Alcoholic beverages
Some medicines can make you dizzy after eating, and these include diuretics, muscle relaxants antihistamines, and medications for controlling blood pressure control.
Dizziness after eating that occurs frequently may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Proper diagnosis and treatment may be needed to avoid further complications.
Home care for dizziness after eating
You must consult a doctor especially if symptoms occur often or if they cause problems such as fainting, falling, or confusion. Along with proper medical treatment, you can follow some daily self-care measures to manage your health, such as:
- Avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast.
- Eat meals on time.
- Eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime.
- Avoid eating large meals in one sitting. It is advisable to eat small, regularly spaced-out meals.
- Avoid drinking soda and other carbonated drinks with meals. Drink water or other healthy beverages such as lime juice, coconut water, or fresh fruit juice.
- Stay well hydrated with water by drinking at regular intervals.
- If you are suffering from gastritis, avoid fatty foods and eat only fruits and vegetables for a few days, followed by a balanced diet after symptoms subside.
- Avoid doing strenuous activities after eating.
- Certain spices help decrease feelings of dizziness after eating, such as cayenne and ginger. Brew some herbal tea to drink after meals.