Pain in Abdomen After Eating

From time to time, we all experience some degree of abdominal pain or cramping after eating.

While the causes of this symptom vary, most cases of stomach discomfort tend to subside without medical intervention. However, if you are constantly in pain and experiencing stomach cramps after eating, you may require medical attention.

This guide examines the causes of abdominal pain and stomach cramps you experience after eating, identifying when you should seek medical advice.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt After I Eat?

Abdominal pain after eating (also referred to as postprandial pain) is closely connected to the food you decide to consume. By extension, the cause behind your postprandial pain and stomach cramping depends on factors such as:

  • How fast you ate
  • How much you ate
  • Where you ate
  • What you ate

Therefore, when assessing the causes of your stomach pain after eating, you should reflect on what you ate before the symptoms start. 


What Do Stomach Cramps Feel Like?

As the muscles in your stomach contract, it can cause a dull ache in your abdomen – these are known as stomach cramps. 

Patients often describe stomach cramps as a sudden pain and tightening sensation in their bellies, causing abdominal discomfort. Depending on the exact cause of the cramping, this level of discomfort may vary from mild aches to severe abdominal pain.

Your stomach pain may last anywhere from a couple of hours to a week. If symptoms persist, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention.


Corresponding Symptoms with Stomach Pain After Eating

Most patients experience pain after eating present the following corresponding symptoms:

  • Bloating 
  • Stomach gurgling
  • High temperature and fever
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Acid reflux, heartburn and belching 
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea

However, it is noteworthy that the related symptoms depend on the underlying cause.

What Causes Abdominal Pain After Eating?

There are several causes behind the abdominal pain you’re experiencing after eating. These can be categorised into two common causes: food-related and medical conditions. 

Food-related causes are typically not a medical emergency, with symptoms tending to subside within a few hours.

Such causes include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Overeating
  • Food intolerances
  • Food Allergies
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)

Meanwhile, you may suffer from an underlying medical condition if you have recurrent abdominal pain after eating. This is particularly relevant if you’re experiencing abdominal cramping and pain even after eating smaller portions.

Such medical conditions that can cause chronic pain include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Gallstones
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Inflammation of the digestive tract
  • Diverticulosis

In the following section, we break down what could trigger your stomach pain after eating and identify specifically related symptoms to help guide your understanding. 

Why Does My Stomach Hurt After I Eat - Causes

Medical Conditions

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is where you experience chronic acid reflux (more than twice a week). GORD typically occurs in patients with a weakened lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS), this is the muscle responsible for keeping your stomach contents from rising upward.

As acid and other stomach contents are pushed upwards into your lower oesophagus due to a weakened LOS, you will likely feel abdominal discomfort alongside a burning pain in your chest.

Some common symptoms of patients with GORD exhibit also include:

Fortunately, GORD is not a medical emergency and can be treated with a few minor lifestyle changes. If you want to learn more about treatment and suitable over-the-counter medication options, head to our acid reflux service page.


Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic or acute pancreatitis is the inflammation of your pancreas due to ongoing damage to the organ, causing it to function at suboptimal levels.

Patients with pancreatitis often complain of stomach pain lasting up to 6 hours. This upper abdominal pain can radiate down to your stomach and back. You may also notice that eating salty or fatty foods can exacerbate the pain as your pancreas struggles to produce the enzymes necessary to break down the contents. 

Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:

  • Bloating
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Tenderness around your abdomen 
  • Presence of fat in your stool

If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms close to pancreatitis, you must consult medical attention as soon as possible. This is because chronic pancreatitis inflames your pancreas for extended periods, causing significant damage to your organ and increasing your risk of cancer. 


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects your large intestine’s ability to digest food properly. Consequently, people with IBS exhibit symptoms of inflammation in the large intestine, which can cause a tight feeling around their stomach. 

You may notice that your stomach pain worsens after eating trigger foods such as bread, cereals, or processed foods. These foods inflame your large intestine, causing muscle spasms and pain. Other symptoms of IBS include:

  • Irregular bowel movements and stool types
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gassiness 
  • Indigestion

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for IBS. However, if you believe you suffer from IBS, you can consult a gastroenterologist to help adapt your lifestyle to support your chronic condition. Check out our IBS management page for more information on how a gastroenterologist can help. 


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is another functional disorder that affects your digestive system’s ability to operate, including the small intestine, large intestine, colon and rectum. Common forms of IBD include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are known to cause sharp pain around your abdomen after eating certain foods.

Abdominal pain from IBD is caused by several factors, including inflammation of your intestine, distention or even a partial blockage in your digestive tract.

Other symptoms of IBD include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding and bloody stools

Like IBS, IBD is considered a chronic condition and requires you to adjust your lifestyle to manage symptoms. However, there are pain medications that help control inflammation during flare-ups.


Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is another gastrointestinal condition that affects your body’s ability to break down gluten effectively. Instead, your body has an abnormal immune response that identifies gluten as a harmful substance and attacks it accordingly.

As a result, this can cause damage to the lining of your small intestine and trigger malabsorption. In return, you may experience an upset stomach and sharp abdominal pain after consuming gluten.

Corresponding symptoms of celiac disease also include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Distention
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Gassiness
  • Abnormal pale stools

If your stomach hurts after eating gluten, we recommend consulting your local General Practitioner for a blood test to determine if you have celiac disease. Following this, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for treatment and management.



Gallstones are crystallised cholesterol and calcium stones that form within your gallbladder. These stones can cause mild to severe stomach cramping, lasting between a few minutes to hours. 

Additionally, you will notice that gallstone pain is located around the upper right-hand side of your abdomen and back. Most commonly, gallstone patients complain that the pain is particularly severe at night or shortly after eating. 

Other associated symptoms of gallstones include:

  • Indigestion
  • Nausea and vomiting

While gallstones can be painful, there are several treatment options to help relieve pain. However, we recommend consulting a medical professional for a proper diagnosis to ensure the most appropriate treatment.


Stomach Ulcer

Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are a form of open sores that form around your stomach lining or intestine. These ulcers can often cause abdominal pain after eating as the stomach acid can irritate the open sores. 

Patients describe a distinct burning pain in their stomach after eating, resulting from the acidic contents in contact with their ulcers.

Other corresponding symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Reflux 
  • Indigestion 
  • Heartburn

If you exhibit similar symptoms, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is because a peptic ulcer can become cancerous if left untreated, which can be life-threatening.  For more information, contact your local General Practitioner for a consultation and referral to a relevant specialist. 

Treatments and Relief From Abdominal Pain

As there are several causes behind your abdominal pain, the best approach is to seek medical advice. Accordingly, this will ensure a proper diagnosis and a more suitable treatment option to help relieve your stomach pain after eating. 


In the meantime, there are some home remedies that you could try to provide some temporary relief. These include:

  • Teas: Sipping on hot teas with apple cider vinegar, ginger, or chamomile may aid your digestive process and help relieve abdominal discomfort. 
  • Antacids: These over-the-counter medications effectively neutralise any discomfort caused by indigestion, heartburn or GORD. 
  • Fibre supplements and laxatives: Effective for anyone experiencing chronic constipation, IBS or IBD. This can help promote proper bowel movements and alleviate symptoms. 
  • Antidiarrheal medication: This can help those suffering from food poisoning or other symptoms surrounding chronic diarrhoea.

However, it is notable that these remedies only alleviate your symptoms and do not provide a permanent cure for your abdominal pain. Therefore, the best approach is always to seek medical attention. 

When to See a Doctor

If you find yourself experiencing one of the following symptoms, we recommend seeking medical attention as soon as possible:

  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • Persistent vomiting or nausea 
  • Fever 
  • Extremely tender and swollen abdomen 

These symptoms may indicate a complication with your digestive tract, which could cause concern. 


How the Centre for Gastrointestinal Health Can Help

At the Centre of Gastrointestinal Health, we provide you with accurate diagnosis procedures to ensure the correct and most effective treatments for your abdominal pain.

Our holistic approach to your gut health is key to successfully treating your pain and providing long-lasting relief from stomach discomfort.

For more information on our services, call us at 1300 580 239 or email today. 

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