A variety of causes can lead to stomach pain after you have eaten. Bothersome elements in the diet or a lack of adequate physical activity can lead to discomfort. If you are frequently experiencing pain after you eat there may be an issue with your digestive system that may require medical attention. Pain with any organs, ranging from the stomach, intestines, appendix, liver, gallbladder spleen or pancreas can contribute to discomfort after you eat. Exploring your symptoms will help you determine which organs are involved in your discomfort and whether or not you require medical attention.
Causes of Stomach Pain after Eating
Stomach pain after eating can be a condition caused by various reasons, such as potential diseases, unhealthy or improper eating, digestive disorder, etc.
Overeating- When you eat too much or consume your food too quickly it can cause a stomach ache. This is your body's way of signaling that you should stop eating because there is more food in your body than your system can handle. This can also be a sign that your body is starting to become dehydrated trying to break down all of the food you have eaten.
Food Intolerance- Those who are sensitive to particular foods may experience discomfort after eating them. Spicy foods can commonly cause cramping or stomach pain for those who have sensitive digestive systems. Food poisoning can also cause sharp pains in the abdomen after eating. These are commonly coupled with nausea, vomiting or sweating.
Heartburn- When a patient is sensitive to certain foods they may be prone to heartburn. This will feel like a painful or burning sensation in the upper portion of the abdomen, which is often mistaken for heart trouble.
Constipation- Patients who have not had a bowl movement in several days can suffer from hardening stool which can put a painful pressure on the digestive tract. This can become more painful after eating as the digestive tract begins to fill. Frequent constipation or difficulty using the bathroom after eating may be attributed to irritable bowel syndrome.
Lactose Intolerance- Lactose intolerance is an allergy to dairy products. This causes an inability to break down foods that contain lactose. After eating foods such as milk, yogurt, ice cream or soft cheeses you may experience bloating and digestive discomfort.
Intestinal Obstruction- If a blockage develops in your small intestine or colon it can prevent other food from passing through properly. An obstruction can be caused by a large piece of food that was not broken down properly or an adhesion, tumor or hernia. Watch for cramps after eating or watery stools to determine if something is blocking the flow of your intestine.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - PID is caused when an infection affects any of the organs in the reproductive system including the ovaries, uterus or fallopian tubes. This inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, which is typically acquired through sexual intercourse. As your stomach or intestines become full after eating, it can put pressure on your inflamed organs, causing pain.
Diverticulitis- Diverticulitis is caused when muscles in the colon begin to break down, causing weak points to develop. These weak points, known as diverticula, can trap particles of stool, causing this to become inflamed and painful. This pain is especially prominent after eating, leading to cramps and tenderness on the lower left side of the stomach area.
Gallstones- Gallstones occur when bile hardens in the gallbladder. These stones can be as small as grains of sand or as large as a golf ball. When these stones develop you may experience pain in the right side of the abdomen which may spread to the back and right shoulder. This pain can become more severe after meals, especially if the meal contained elements including a lot of fat or grease.
Appendicitis- The appendix is a small sac attached to the large intestine which is susceptible to getting food and bacteria inside during the digestive process. This can cause the appendix to become inflamed, causing discomfort from the infection. A shooting pain may develop on the lower right side of the stomach, especially after meals. As the infection takes hold, fever and delirium may take hold. It is important to address this discomfort right away or the appendix can burst.
Pancreatitis- The pancreas can become inflamed when the digestive enzymes it excretes begins to attack the tissue instead of the food entering the small intestine. This pain will begin gradually in the upper area near the stomach and spread throughout the abdomen after meals.
Home Care for Stomach Pain after Eating
If you are experiencing mild stomach pain after eating, you can take some helpful steps that are listed below:
- When you have overeaten or are dealing with digestive discomfort it is important to drink water and clear fluids to stay hydrated.
- Avoid solid foods for a few hours, especially if you have been vomiting. When you begin to eat solid foods again, start with foods that are easy to digest such as applesauce, plain crackers or rice.
- Avoid any foods that may have caused your initial distress. If you are feeling heartburn or indigestion, cut out greasy foods, alcohol or carbonated beverages and take an antacid to help cut the pain.
- Do not take aspirin, narcotics or anti-inflammatories until you have determined the cause of your digestive distress.
When to see a doctor
If your digestive distress has lasted for more than one week, you are experiencing long term loss of appetite or vaginal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, long-term diarrhea, long-term bloating, a burning sensation when you urinate or pain that is extreme. It is important to seek medical attention. This is especially important if you have recently experienced an abdominal injury, the pain is incredibly sharp or your abdomen has become rigid or you are vomiting blood. Contact your doctor to determine whether emergency medical care is necessary.