Food Allergies, Food Intolerance and Other Causes of Nausea after Eating
Eating too much food may cause the unpleasant feeling of nausea, this is quite a common phenomenon. However, some people may develop nausea even after eating a regular amount of food. In this case, the symptom may indicate some underlying health condition.
Nausea can be a symptom of several conditions ranging from mild to severe. Depending on the what is causing the nausea, you may develop various additional symptoms. To treat and avoid this symptom, you need to get a proper diagnosis first.
What’s the Mechanism of Action of the Digestive System?
Human digestive system consists of a number of organs working all together to break down food and beverages with consume during the day. These organs help to turn the nutrients obtained with the food into energy. This energy can be used immediately or stored for later use.
You may have heard that the digestive process begins already in your mouth, since we break down food in order to swallow it. Then, the food processed in the mouth, is transported through the esophagus to your stomach and intestines. The digestive juices produced in the stomach and intestine are responsible for the further breakdown of the food. When the needed nutrients are extracted, the waste is moved into the large intestine and then eliminated from the body.
If there is something wrong with the digestive process, you may experience nausea after eating. The feeling is usually concentrated in the upper abdominal area.
In some cases, your body’s reaction to nausea may be to get rid of the food in the stomach, which is usually done through vomiting. The color of the vomit can help to identify the condition under the symptoms.
What Are the Possible Causes of Nausea?
There are various potential causes of nausea, including hormonal changes, infection, food allergy or intolerance, gastrointestinal problems, vascular, cardiac, psychiatric or psychological problems, headache syndromes, motion sickness, as well as medications.
Significant hormonal changes are likely to occur in women during pregnancy. These changes are to blame for the feelings of nausea in the morning or at any time of the day. In some women, nausea may develop before they eat a meal, while others may experience nausea right after eating. In some cases, nausea may be present during the entire day.
Nausea attacks are likely to begin during the fifth to eighth week of pregnancy, and they usually disappear by the fourth month. If your nausea is linked to pregnancy-induced hormonal changes, the symptom is not harmful to either you or your child.
Increased levels of hormones related during pregnancy can lead to changes in the digestive system of the body. As a result, food may spend more timer in the stomach and small intestine, which may also affect your nausea.
The hormones associated with pregnancy can loosed up the connection between the esophagus and stomach, which may lead to increased acid reflux and result in nausea.
Pregnant women often have an elevated sense of smell, which can also contribute to nausea feeling.
Infection is a common cause of nausea.
People can develop the symptoms like nausea several hours after consuming contaminated food – the condition known as food poisoning. If not cooked or stored properly, food gets contaminated by bacteria. Additional symptoms of food poisoning include: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, tiredness, fever, and aches.
Consuming contaminated food or water can also lead to viral infections of the digestive tract (e.g. stomach flu), which represent another potential cause of nausea. These viruses can also be transferred through a close contact with a person infected with the virus.
Viral infections are associated with severe inflammation in the stomach and intestines, leading to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, head and muscle aches, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Food allergy is quite a common auto-immune disorder. If you have a food allergy, your immune system will overact every time you are exposed to the allergen.
The symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe (anaphylaxis), and they often include nausea. Some of the most commonly occurring food allergy symptoms are: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, swelling of the lips, mouth and throat, skin rash or hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness, as well as nasal symptoms like sneezing and runny nose.
Severe allergic reactions to food can be life-threatening and require immediate medical assistance.
Some people may experience allergy-like symptoms after eating certain foods, but these symptoms are not related to the immune system. This condition is known as food intolerance, and it is caused by the body’s inability to digest the food in a normal way.
Food intolerance often causes nausea, in addition to vomiting, stomach pain and cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and heartburn. A lot of people are intolerant to lactose (contained in dairy products), gluten (found in most grains), as well as beans, cabbage and other foods inducing intestinal gas.
If any organ making up your digestive system is not functioning well, you will likely develop nausea and other digestive symptoms.
Thus, gastroesophageal disease (GERD) is associated with the malfunction of the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach, which allows stomach acid to enter the esophagus.
One of the typical symptoms of GERD is heartburn, which is a burning sensation throughout the esophagus. This condition can also cause nausea after eating. Other common symptoms of GERD include: chronic cough, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, and bloating or gas.
Diseases linked to the gallbladder, which is responsible for the release of bile that helps to digest fats, interfere with the digestion of fats and can lead to nausea after consuming high-fat foods. The symptoms of gallbladder diseases also include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pale stools, fever, and jaundice.
Pancreatitis is a condition associated with inflammation or injury of the pancreas that releases hormones and proteins involved in the digestion. The symptoms of pancreatitis include: nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever.
Another condition that may cause nausea is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The symptoms of this chronic disease include bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and sometimes nausea.
In some cases, narrowing of arteries in the intestines restricting blood flow can lead to nausea after eating. If your nausea is accompanied by severe stomach pain, you may have a chronic mesenteric ischemia. Other symptoms of mesenteric ischemia include: vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and bloating or gas.
This condition may suddenly become worse and even possess a real threat to your life.
Psychiatric or Psychological Disorders
Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can make you feel nausea after eating.
People with anorexia nervosa experience nausea due to excess stomach acid or starvation, while bulimia nervosa sufferers develop this symptom because of the compulsion to vomit any food they eat.
Nausea after eating may also be a result of anxiety, depression or intense stress that can lead to loss of appetite, as well.
In some people, nausea that occurs after eating may indicate a heart attack.
Headache syndrome like migraines can cause nausea after eating, as well as severe stomach pain, vomiting, and dizziness.
There are also people who are very sensitive to motion, which is known as motion sickness. Particular movement can sometimes make them experience nausea, especially if they eat before or after being involved in the movement.
Various medications, such as antibiotics, painkillers, or medicine used in chemotherapy, can cause a number of side effects including nausea. Usually, the symptom goes away, once the treatment is stopped or completed.
When Should You Seek Medical Help?
Normally, nausea is not a serious symptom. However, if you experience nausea for five days or more, you may want to visit a doctor to make sure you don’t have any underlying condition.
Nausea in children requires more attention though. If your baby experiences repeated vomiting, fever, blood vomiting, problems with urination, abnormal sleepiness, or headache, you should speak to your doctor.
How Is the Diagnosis Made?
Nausea can be caused by a variety of conditions. You may want to keep a food journal where you list the foods you eat and the symptoms you have. This will help your doctor make a correct diagnosis.
The full diagnosis may also require blood or urine testing, skin testing, swallowing testing, colonoscopy or upper endoscopy, and even a CT scan or MRI of the abdomen.
How Can You Treat the Feeling of Nausea?
The best treatment to help with nausea rather depends on the condition that is causing it.
Thus, if you are affected by GERD, you may need some acid blocking medication or antibiotics for the bacteria in the stomach. If you have a stomach virus, experts recommend that you stay hydrated and consume soft, low in fiber and not spicy foods. If you have a known food allergy or intolerance, you will need to avoid certain foods.
People with more serious diseases, such as gallbladder disease, may need a surgery.
Can You Prevent Nausea after Eating?
There are various methods that can help to prevent nausea after eating.
To start with, you should keep your diet full of easy to digest foods like crackers, white rice, or dry toast. When you experience nausea, you may want to limit eating but continue drinking. Drinking water or other bland beverages regularly but in small quantities can help to reduce nausea.
Ginger is a popular natural remedy against nausea. Ginger is found in ginger ales, ginger candies, ginger gum, ginger tea, etc. You can also try a chewing gum or a mint candy.