After eating a great meal, we want to push back from the table and relax, not feel like we have to go running for the restroom. Even worse than feeling a bit bloated is finding your dinner finishes with the feeling that what you ate is going to come back up again.
Nausea after eating can be caused by a variety of things, some of which are innocuous or very natural, and some that are dangerous and even represent a potentially life-threatening illness. Knowing what you are up against is important to make sure you don’t worry too much or miss out on important and necessary medical treatment.
What Does it Mean to Feel Nauseous After Eating?
If you feel the queasy, upset, alarming feeling from your stomach that makes you think you might soon throw up after a meal, then you know the feeling of nausea following eating. There are many reasons for this phenomenon ranging from pregnancy to constipation to pancreatitis.
The causes of nausea range from treatable and temporary to chronic conditions that may be harder to handle. Separating out the causes of a little heartburn from overeating from truly serious conditions like food poisoning, gallbladder disease, or mesenteric ischemia, rests on looking at other symptoms and health indicators.
We will look at some of these conditions below, but a short list of common causes of nausea after eating include:
- food poisoning
- stomach flu
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- food allergies
- gallbladder disease
- acute pancreatitis
One of the causes of nausea after you eat is pregnancy. Though not directly related to your digestion, morning sickness and other gestational nausea are related to changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and can cause nausea. Sometimes changes in gut flora can also occur during pregnancy, which can lead to feeling unwell after you eat.
Perhaps the most common reason for nausea after you eat is food poisoning. We use terms like eating something that “didn’t agree with you” but the truth is, food poisoning can be a serious matter that can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and severe abdominal pain.
While typically not harmful to healthy adults in developed countries, food poisoning and drinking contaminated water can be extremely dangerous to young children and the elderly, and result in the deaths of people throughout the world. For most of us, thoroughly washing vegetables and fruits, and being careful about washing hands and sanitizing surfaces when preparing meat, can help reduce the chances of food poisoning. It is also important to prepare eggs and meat properly, cooking all meat and fish to recommended temperatures to kill any bacteria or other pathogens that might be hiding in or on your food.
When winter rolls around, we know cold and flu season is coming along with the colder temperatures. This means we need to be prepared for the dreaded stomach flu. Much like other viral flu infections, the stomach flu not only affects our upper respiratory tract, but also adds insult to injury with nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and other unpleasant symptoms in your gastrointestinal tract. For many people, managing symptoms with home remedies, getting plenty of rest, and staying properly hydrated is all that is needed to ensure you are back on your feet soon.
Food poisoning is related to ingesting poorly cooked meat, unwashed produce, or other contaminated food, but it is possible that you can experience nausea even from eating perfectly prepared food. This can include conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or other conditions affecting either the large or small intestine—inappropriate immune system responses that can result in bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Sometimes the cause of nausea is not something we ingest or what is going on inside our bodies, but what is going on around us. Chronic stress can result in poor digestive health and repeated bouts of nausea. Stress hormones released into the bloodstream can cause the release of gastric juices that can wear away at the lining of the stomach, potentially resulting in feeling nauseous during or after consuming food.
Other Possible Causes of Nausea
There are many other common causes of consistent nausea, many of which require the attention of a healthcare professional to diagnose and treat. These include GERD and acid reflux disease where stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Gallbladder disease can also result in feelings of nausea. Issues with the lining of your stomach or small intestine such as peptic ulcers or ulcerative colitis can make you feel queasy, as can other forms of food intolerance.
Being too full can also make you feel like you are going to throw up. This could mean that you put too much food in your body at once by overeating, or it could mean that you are having trouble getting food you ate previously out of your body. Any condition that prevents proper movement of your food through your digestive tract such as bowel obstructions or severe constipation can also result in nausea and feeling as though you might vomit after you eat.
Do You Feel Nauseous After Eating?
If you are only feeling nauseous after eating occasionally, or after you eat specific foods, you may be able to avoid unpleasant feelings by cutting certain foods out of your diet. If you are constantly feeling an upset stomach after you eat, there may be something more serious going on with your digestive tract.
If you have been consistently experiencing nausea after you eat, it may be time to take a closer look at your digestive health. This may start with getting medical advice from your family physician, or it may involve seeing a specialist such as a gastroenterologist who specializes in problems with your digestive system.
One of the best indicators of whether you are up against a serious condition relating to your digestive health is if you are experiencing dramatic, unexplained weight loss along with the other symptoms mentioned above. This can indicate malabsorption of nutrients, and may be a sign of a serious problem with your digestive tract.
Weight loss is not the only indicator that your nausea may be a sign of something that requires medical treatment. Typically nausea will appear alongside other side effects and symptoms of gastric conditions, and paying attention to these other symptoms can help you understand what is going on.
At Cary Gastroenterology, we specialize exclusively in digestive health. Our highly trained team of doctors and specialists focuses on what can go wrong in your digestive tract, and what it takes to maintain good digestive health throughout your life. Not only do we have the experience and expertise to help you understand what is going on in your gut, we have the tools to perform the necessary diagnostic procedures you need such as endoscopies and colonoscopies to be sure you have the most accurate diagnosis possible.
If you are concerned about symptoms that don’t seem to be resolving, such as nausea after eating, request an appointment with us today.