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What Causes Nausea After Eating?

Any number of conditions can make you sick to your stomach after a meal, from food poisoning to pregnancy. A closer look at your other symptoms can help you pinpoint what’s causing your nausea. Once you’ve identified the problem, your doctor can help you find a treatment that will stop you from getting sick to your stomach. Then you can enjoy your meals, nausea-free.

Causes

There are many conditions that can make you nauseated after eating.

1.Food allergies

Certain foods, like shellfish, nuts, or eggs, can fool your immune system into identifying them as harmful foreign invaders. When you eat one of these trigger foods, your immune system launches a series of events that leads to the release of histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals produce allergy symptoms, which can range from hives and mouth swelling, to nausea.

2.Food poisoning

Food that sits around for too long or isn’t properly refrigerated attracts bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can make you sick. Food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, typically start within a few hours after you’ve eaten contaminated food.

3.Stomach virus

This common bug, which is sometimes nicknamed the “stomach flu,” infects the intestines and triggers gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You can catch a stomach virus by getting too close to someone who’s sick, or by eating food or drinking water that’s been contaminated with the virus.

4.Pregnancy

One of the earliest signs that you’re pregnant is an uneasy, queasy feeling, which often starts during the second month of your pregnancy. Changing hormone levels trigger pregnancy nausea.Though it’s officially termed “morning sickness,” nausea can strike at any time of day, including mealtimes. Sometimes the smell or taste of certain foods is enough to make your stomach roll. The feeling is temporary, and it won’t harm you or your baby.

5.Acid reflux

A burning feeling behind your breastbone, known as heartburn, is the hallmark symptom of gastroesophageal disease (GERD), but this condition can cause nausea, too. GERD happens when the muscular valve between your esophagus and stomach malfunctions, allowing stomach acid to leak up into your esophagus.

6.Anxiety and stress

Stress doesn’t only take a toll on your emotions. It affects your physical health, too. A difficult breakup or job loss can make you lose your appetite, or feel sick after you eat. The nausea should let up once you get your stress under control.

7.Cancer treatment

Some chemotherapy drugs cause nausea as a side effect. The nausea should go away after you’ve finished the treatment.

Symptoms

Having nausea once in a while after you eat isn’t cause for alarm, but you should call a doctor if it doesn’t go away within a week. Call right away if you have any of these other, more serious symptoms:

  • blood in your vomit or stools
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days
  • extreme thirst, little urine production, weakness, or dizziness, which are signs of dehydration
  • fever of over 101.5°F (38.5°C)
  • intense pain in the abdomen
  • rapid heartbeat
  • severe vomiting or trouble keeping food down

Prevention

Try these tips to avoid feeling sick after you eat:

  • Suck on ice cubes or crushed ice.
  • Avoid greasy, fried, or spicy foods.
  • Eat mainly bland foods, such as crackers or toast.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently, instead of three large meals.
  • Relax and sit still after you eat to give your food time to digest.
  • Eat and drink slowly.
  • Serve foods cold or at room temperature if the smell of cooked food makes you feel queasy.

Your outlook will depend on what’s causing your nausea, and how you treat it. Usually, nausea after you eat will get better once you address the source of the problem.