- Common causes of nausea after eating include food allergies, stress and pregnancy.
- If your nausea lasts more than two days or is resistant to home remedies, see your doctor.
- To treat nausea after eating, chew ginger, drink cold water slowly, and limit your physical activity.
- Visit the Insider Health Reference Library for more tips.
Most people have experienced it nausea at some point in their lives – the annoying, upset feeling in your stomach that can make you feel like vomiting.
For some, this uncomfortable sensation occurs after eating, usually 30 to 60 minutes after a meal, and can last from one to three hours, he says. Jesse P. Houghton, MD, FACG, senior medical director of Gastroenterology at SOMC Gastroenterology Associates.
If you have nausea after eating, here are seven of the most common causes and how to treat it properly.
Nausea during pregnancy does not only happen in the morning, it can also happen after lunch, dinner and snacks.
This is because pregnant people produce the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which comes with nausea as side effects.
“The increase in estrogen or change in the balance of bacteria in the gut during pregnancy could be another reason for nausea after eating increases,” she says. Niket Sonpal, MD, an internist and gastroenterologist.
2. Food poisoning
It is well known that food poisoning may cause nausea. These foods are contaminated with both a virus and a battery that disrupts the GI tract which triggers nausea and, often, vomiting, Houghton says.
Usually, bacteria that cause food poisoning die when exposed to temperatures higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why pre-packaged and raw foods, such as salad, fruit and undercooked meat are common culprits of food poisoning since they are raw, Sonpal says.
3. Food intolerances or allergies
When you eat something that you are allergic to or have an intolerance to, your body’s immune system responds with chemicals, such as immunoglobulin E (IgE) and histamine, that can cause symptoms such as nausea, Sonpal says.
U most common food allergies I know:
If you think your nausea is due to an allergy, give it a try allergist which can help you determine which foods may be to blame.
4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), aka acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, inflaming it, which can trigger nausea, he says. David D. Clarke, MD, a clinical assistant professor of Gastroenterology Emeritus and assistant director at the Center for Ethics at Oregon Health & Science University.
Treatment for GERD includes:
- Take over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums and Pepto Bismol.
- Using prescription medications, such as famotidine and cimetidine, reduces or blocks acid production.
- Undergoing such surgery fundoplication, which wraps the upper part of the stomach around the esophagus, which strengthens the valve between the two organs.
5. Irritable bowel syndrome
“There is no exact cause of an IBS flare-up. However, most symptoms, such as vomiting, tend to worsen after consuming foods that are difficult to digest,” says Sonpal. “Sometimes IBS nausea also occurs due to certain trigger foods, medications, or stress.”
Treatment for IBS includes:
- Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms
- Regular exercise
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Elimination of foods that can cause gas such as gluten or FODMAP
- Take one fiber supplement or laxative
- Start an antidepressant
6. Gallbladder disease
Most variations of gallbladder disease result in nausea after eating. This is because the organ works to push bile into the small intestine and aid digestion.
“If the flow of bile is obstructed, for example by a kick, the resulting strain on the gallbladder or its associated channels can lead to nausea,” says Clarke.
Other signs of gallbladder disease include:
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes,
- Pain in the right side of the abdomen
- Dark urine
If you experience any of the above symptoms, visit a doctor who can diagnose you and provide correct treatment. Gallbladder disease is rarely a life-threatening condition.
7. Anxiety or stress
As if stress and anxiety are not enough to deal with on their own, these mental health problems can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea or diarrhea.
“Stress hormones can influence the way our GI tract contracts, either slowing it down or accelerating it,” says Houghton.
To determine if anxiety causes your post-meal nausea, keep a journal of when you feel anxious and when you are nauseous. This way you can notice any patterns between the two.
Techniques to reduce stress include:
- Breathing exercises
- Exercise regularly
- Set realistic goals for yourself
- Working with a mental health professional
Take away the Insider
Factors such as pregnancy, IBS and stress can cause people to become nauseous after eating.
According to Clarke, he should see a doctor if:
- Your nausea lasts more than two days
- You are dehydrated due to diarrhea or vomiting
- He vomits more than one day
- Home treatment does not work
- You have severe abdominal pain
If you feel nauseous after a meal, try chewing ginger, drinking plenty of cold water, or limiting your activity until the sensation passes.