Shortness of breath after eating may sound serious, but that’s not always the case. You may experience this symptom if you eat too quickly or too much. However, it could also be due to something serious, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or bronchitis. It is, therefore, a good idea to discuss it with your doctor to find out the exact cause behind this problem.
6 Common Causes of Shortness of Breath After Eating
You may feel uncomfortable after eating due to many different reasons. Some of the most common causes are covered below.
1. Eating Too Much or Too Quickly
Your stomach will become enlarged when you eat large meals or swallow food too quickly. You may also feel bloated, which is usually the outcome of swallowing too much air while eating. You experience discomfort when your enlarged stomach presses against your diaphragm, which in turn will make it difficult for you to breathe properly. Your diaphragm will have less space to expand, but it will still have to give your body the same amount of oxygen, which makes you feel out of breath.
Simply, eat moderately and swallow your food slowly to avoid this issue.
2. Food Allergy
Eating something that you’re allergic to will also lead to shortness of breath. You experience an allergy attack when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in it. Although you may be allergic to any food, eight types of food are usually the culprits in most cases. The list includes tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, wheat, milk, fish, shellfish and soy. Certain seeds such as mustard seeds and sesame seeds may also trigger an allergy reaction.
Limiting exposure to these allergens or foods will effectively prevent shortness of breath.
3. Problems with Your Lungs or Airways
You may experience shortness of breath after eating if you have an underlying lung problem. Clogged airways due to mucus or phlegm will make it difficult for air to move in and out of your lungs, which will make you feel breathless. You may also feel breathless when you have an asthma attack. Using a spacer device with your regular asthma inhaler will help deliver medicine directly to your lungs to relieve your symptoms.
Lung inflammation or pneumonia may also cause a cough and shortness of breath. Taking antibiotics is the way to deal with such an infection. If you already have COPD, your breathlessness may indicate your condition is becoming worse. Other serious causes of feeling breathless include tumors in the region of esophagus, trachea, etc.
Be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out the possibility of having any serious underlying lung problems.
4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD could also be a reason of shortness of breath after eating. It is a condition in which your lower esophagus opens too often or stays partially open all the time. This allows your stomach acid and food to move back up from your stomach into your esophagus. Experiencing this situation once in a while is not that serious, but you will be a patient of GERD if acid reflux occurs more than twice a week. The condition causes several symptoms, including shortness of breath, especially after eating anything. You may also experience a tight sensation in your lower chest as well as in your middle abdomen with dry coughing, hoarseness, asthma and trouble swallowing.
The combination of medications and lifestyle changes will help keep symptoms in check.
It refers to an irregular heartbeat. The condition is quite common, but is usually harmless. It produces a number of different symptoms, including shortness of breath right after eating. You may not notice any symptoms if you have mild arrhythmias, but severe arrhythmias may cause specific symptoms, such as exhaustion, palpitation, lightheadedness, chest pain and fainting. In some rare cases, arrhythmia may also lead to stopped heartbeat or cardiac arrest.
Treatment options include medications, surgery and altered lifestyle.
6. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are types of psychological illnesses characterized by paranoia, fear, restlessness and panic. These signs of anxiety disorders will make it difficult for you to function normally. You may notice different symptoms in different anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorder, phobias and generalized anxiety, but shortness of breath is a usually common symptoms of them. If your anxiety is associated with weight or other diet related problems, meals may lead to shortness of breath and cause other symptoms such as nausea, lightheadedness, chest pain and intense fear. Anxiety disorders usually come with other disorders – this list includes anorexia and other mental illnesses, such as bulimia, depression and binge eating.
Your treatment options will depend on the severity of your symptoms and may include a combination of medications and alternative therapies.
You should seek immediate medical attention if along with shortness of breath after eating, you’re experiencing other symptoms such as coughing blood, heavy wheezing and fever higher than 101degrees Fahrenheit. Call 911 immediately or ask someone to take you to the hospital. Don’t drive when experiencing such symptoms.