Sharp Stomach Pain After Eating: What’s Causing It?

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Thursday November 29, 2018

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Maybe you ate a meal that set your senses on fire — and a few other body parts, as it turns out. You feel abdominal pain that sharpens progressively even well after the meal. What do you do when you feel sharp stomach pain after eating? What might cause it?

From overeating to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), several reasons may be the cause of the feelings of sharp stomach pain after eating.


When you eat a buffet lunch or dinner, you may feel an obligation to stuff as much onto your plate and into your stomach as possible. It’s just like those bottomless shrimp specials — you can’t say no to a second or third serving!

However, when you overeat, your stomach needs extra time and effort to process the food. As a result, you feel sharp pains while your stomach deals with it.

Spicy or Hot Foods

Spicy and hot foods irritate sensitive stomachs when consumed — and they can cause great pain. Consider turning down the heat when you eat your next meal.

Milk also helps cool down the heat if your lips and throat burn. Just remember to drink it in moderation and avoid it altogether if you have lactose intolerance.

Lactose or Food Intolerance

Your body may not possess the enzymes necessary to break down the enzymes inside food, such as the lactose inside dairy products. If you have this problem, you may feel sharp stomach pain after eating or drinking along with gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. In this case, keep track of what you consume and how your body responds.

Your doctor or nutritionist may recommend reducing trigger foods for a while and then slowly reintroducing them.

Food Allergy

Like an intolerance, you may also have a food allergy that’s causing your stomach pain. These can include starches, spices, dairy or grains. Consult a doctor.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease specifically is gluten intolerance, so your stomach rebels against the gluten-containing meal you consumed. Again, keep a record of what you eat and ask your doctor about the ins and outs of an elimination diet.

Food Poisoning

You may not have an intolerance, an allergy or a condition. Consider what’s possibly wrong with the food itself.

If you eat contaminated food, your symptoms usually include bloating, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea and more. Food poisoning doesn’t last forever, and the best way to combat it involves drinking smalls sips of water or sucking on ice chips to avoid dehydration.

Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers occur when bacteria decides to eat your stomach lining. Yay! Luckily, the condition proves easily treatable with antibiotics.


You have gallstones if the pain rages in your back on the right side. After eating, bile releases to aid the digestion process, but gallstones stop the release of bile.

Blocked Blood Vessels

Sharp stomach pain after eating can also result from cholesterol blocking blood vessels, which disrupts digestion. If left untreated, the condition may threaten your life. As you age, always have the doctor check your cholesterol levels.

Intestinal Obstruction

You may also have an intestinal blockage preventing the food from passing. You can tell if the pain lasts for hours after you eat your last meal. If the obstruction remains, you may experience complications. Drink lots of water and see a doctor.


When you feel sharp, persistent pain in your lower right side, you may have appendicitis. Just remember that it occurs in less than half of appendicitis cases — even though it’s the typical first sign. The pain worsens after you eat, and other symptoms include vomiting and a mild fever.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS symptoms include stomach pains after meals, gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.


With pancreatitis, the pain starts in your upper right abdomen and spreads to the back. If the pain lasts for over six hours, you may have an inflamed pancreas.


Sharp stomach pain accompanied by severe cramping suggests diverticulitis — infected pouches, or cysts, along the walls of the bowels. When you feel the cramping, head to the emergency room.

Gastroenteritis or Stomach Flu

Similar to food poisoning, you must let these conditions run their course — they’re often the result of consuming contaminated beverages or food.


When was the last time you pooped? It’s not a “Cards Against Humanity” question — it could indicate whether your stomach pain is because you haven’t gone to the bathroom in a while or you can’t go at all.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

When a bacterial infection occurs in the reproductive organs, PID results. When you eat, your intestines and stomach expand, placing pressure on inflamed organs. The bacterial infection usually comes from transmittance during sexual intercourse.

Many Causes of Sharp Stomach Pain After Eating

From overeating to PID, many conditions can cause sharp stomach pain after eating. You can avoid or prevent many of these conditions by eating well-balanced meals spaced reasonably apart and drinking plenty of water to help your bowels release waste. Add more probiotic foods to your diet, too, such as yogurt and kimchi, to build good gut bacteria and decrease bad gut bacteria.

A shift in diet, the addition of more fluids, rest, massage, and hot compresses can all help alleviate sharp stomach pain after eating. If the pain persists for hours or feels severe in nature, seek treatment immediately!

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