Nausea After Eating: Possible Causes and How to Manage It

Regularly feeling nausea after eating may be due to an underlying condition.

woman eating a meal

Consuming too much food in one sitting may result in feelings of nausea. However, regularly feeling nausea after eating may be due to an underlying condition. Here are the common causes of nausea after eating and the recommended treatments.

Understanding the Digestive System

Before jumping into the cause of nausea, it is vital to understand how the digestive system works. The digestive system is composed of a group of organs working together to break down the food or beverages an individual consumes. It turns food into energy that the body uses or stores.

The process of digestion starts at the mouth where most of the food is broken down. It then goes down the esophagus (food pipe) before heading to the stomach and the intestines. Once in the stomach and intestines, the food gets broken down further by digestive juices. Waste from the food is passed to the large intestine where it is excreted via the anus.

Issues that may emerge in the process of digestion may likely lead to nausea after eating. Symptoms usually develop in the upper abdominal area or stomach. The body reacts to such problems by forcing the stomach to empty its content through vomiting.

What Are The Possible Causes?

Infection

Consuming contaminated food may result in food poisoning. Bacteria or viruses are the common causes of contamination which leads to nausea after eating. Stomach flu which is caused by a viral infection in the digestive tract is also likely to cause nausea. Such viruses lead to the inflammation of the intestines and the stomach. Additional symptoms associated with an infection of the digestive system include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

Hormones

Changes in hormones often happen all through pregnancy. It induces nausea at any time of the day, particularly in the morning. Pregnant women experience nausea before meals while others experience it after.

An elevated level of hormones during pregnancy causes digestive system changes. Such hormones ease the connection between the stomach and the esophagus leading to a heightened risk of acid reflux. Acid reflux is characterized by a burning feeling in the chest which can also lead to nausea.

Food Allergies or Intolerance

Some individuals suffer from food allergies or food intolerances. While a food allergy causes a reaction in the body’s immune system, food intolerance does not. Instead, the body has trouble digesting particular food, and as a result, nausea occurs. Food that some individuals are intolerant to include dairy products containing lactose, gluten, cabbage, or beans.

On the other hand, food allergies trigger a response by the immune system to a particular protein in the food. Food allergies can cause nausea immediately after consumption. It is aggravated by other symptoms such as difficulties swallowing or breathing and swelling of the lip or face. An allergic reaction warrants a quick trip to the emergency room.

Gastrointestinal Problems

When the digestive system fails to function properly, it may lead to gastrointestinal problems and nausea after eating. One example is a gastroesophageal disease or GERD. This condition causes stomach acid to head back to the esophagus because of the ring of muscle between the stomach and esophagus malfunctioned. Other gastrointestinal problems that result in nausea after meals include pancreatitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Vascular Problems

Narrowing of the arteries located in the intestines restricts blood flow. This results in nausea and is supplemented by severe stomach pain. The narrowing of blood vessels in the intestine may indicate chronic mesenteric ischemia which is a life-threatening medical condition.

Motion Sickness

Some individuals are susceptible to motion which may result in feelings of nausea. Consuming food after or before such particular movements can heighten the feelings of nausea in affected individuals.

Psychological or Psychiatric Disorders

Common eating disorders include bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Both eating disorders cause feelings of nausea. Extreme stress, depression, and anxiety may also cause nausea after eating as well as a loss of appetite.

Medications

Some medications cause side effects, and one of the most common adverse reaction is nausea. Such medicines that result in nausea after meals include chemotherapy drugs, pain relief drugs, or antibiotics. The feeling of nausea usually subsides once the medication is discontinued.

Treatment

Once the cause of nausea has been determined, it is easy to find its respective treatment. For IBS and food allergies, treatment entails avoiding food that triggers an allergic reaction or disrupts the stomach.

For individuals suffering from a stomach virus, treatment involves resting for a few days accompanied by medications. Food must be bland and sucking on ice chips is recommended. The same treatment method is advised for pregnant women. Bland food must be consumed which includes pasta, toast, and crackers.

Individuals with gallbladder disease, medicines are prescribed to dissolve the gallstones. In extreme cases, surgery or cholecystectomy is done to remove the stones. Once the stones are removed, nausea along with the accompanying symptoms of the gallbladder disease subside.

For heartburn or GERD, individuals are advised to avoid fatty and spicy food. Antacids, as well as other medications that reduce stomach acid, are also prescribed. If possible, then an individual is advised to lose weight.

Nausea caused by cancer treatment is usually treated with anti-nausea medications. An individual is also advised to consume small meals and bland food like oatmeal, chicken, or clear broth.

For individuals suffering from nausea due to motion sickness, it is highly recommended to seat in a location with the least amount of movement. Such areas include the front of a train or over an airplane’s wing. It is also advised to wear a motion sickness patch or wrist.

As for individuals suffering from nausea due to anxiety or stress, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation may help.

Prevention

Prevent nausea after eating by following the tips mentioned below.

  1. Consume food that is easy to digest like dry toast, white rice, or crackers.
  2. Limit the amount of food eaten when one starts to feel nauseated. Instead of food, consume water.
  3. Try consuming ginger which may help alleviate nausea. Other forms of ginger include ginger candy, ginger gum, or ginger ale.
  4. Avoid food that contains fiber or milk.
  5. Suck on mints or chew gum.
  6. Drink water in small amounts until feelings of nausea subside.

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