Stomach pain after eating is a common symptom for a variety of diseases and conditions. In some cases stomach discomfiture is your body’s way of telling you something you’re eating doesn’t agree with you. Lactose intolerance and allergies are frequent causes for after dinner stomach troubles.
Lactose intolerance is associated with lower abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea after the consumption of dairy products. This is a result of the body’s inability to break down the sugar in milk, called lactose. There are three types of lactose intolerance: Congenital or heriditary lactose intolerance, in which there is a mutation in the gene associated with producing the protein that processes lactose (called lactase), Secondary lactose intolerance, in which case the body is rendered unable to produce lactase due to disease and Developmental lactose intolerance characterized by a decrease of lactase production over time, starting from childhood. Lactose intolerance is fairly common, especially in populations with no tradition in dairy farming.
Food allergies range from extremely mild to very serious. Some people are not even aware of their allergy other than slight digestive discomfiture, while others must be rushed to the hospital for immediate attention. Symptoms range from mild to severe stomach cramping after eating, nausea and vomiting, hives and swelling of the throat. People most often allergic to foods like peanuts, shellfish, wheat and eggs.
Lactose intolerance and food allergies can have a major impact on people’s lives, but there are a few ways to lessen this impact. Staying away from dairy products or the foods you are allergic to all together is the surest way to deflect symptoms, but if you really want to enjoy that ice cream there are lactase pills you can take before eating, or if you slip up and eat something you are allergic to, antihistamines can alleviate a mild reaction and a shot of epinephrine or “Epi-pen” can handle severe reactions. Stomach pain after eating can have many reasons and it’s impact can vary from severe pain to light soreness. If it happens frequently, you should probably see your physician, but often simple things like a short walk or a good treadmill workout can help you to feel better.