What are the causes of stomach pain after eating?

Physicians often meet people who complain of stomach pain after eating. While there is usually no significant cause of it, stomach pain after eating can be a sign of an ulcer. Another possible cause is that your blood vessels are blocked (as in the case of coronary artery disease).

Indigestion and food poisoning are two additional causes for stomach pain after eating. The most dangerous possibility is that you have stomach cancer. If you regularly suffer from stomach pain after eating, you should see a doctor to determine whether there are serious underlying causes for it.


A likely cause of stomach pain after eating is an ulcer. An ulcer is a deep, open sore in the stomach or intestines. The reason for stomach pain may be food or stomach acid that irritates the ulcer. If the ulcer blocks the connection between the stomach and the duodenum (first 12 inches of small intestine right below the stomach), you may feel full after eating, but experience nausea and vomiting.

Blocked Blood Vessels

Another possible cause of stomach pain after meals is that blood vessels leading to your intestines are blocked. This is called chronic mesenteric insufficiency, which is similar to coronary artery disease. When you eat, as the demand for blood from the intestines increases, the vessels do not provide amount of blood needed, which causes pain in the stomach and chest. This condition most commonly occurs in people who smoke and have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. It is also found in people who have other blocked vessels in their legs, heart or neck.


Indigestion often causes stomach pain. It involves belching, feeling full to the point of bloating, heartburn and nausea. Indigestion is a common problem that is caused by drinking carbonated or alcoholic beverages, or by eating too quickly. Overeating also causes indigestion, as can spicy and high-fat foods and caffeine. Indigestion is not normally a serious health concern, unless you're also having trouble swallowing or losing a lot of weight.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning occurs as a result of eating food that is contaminated with toxins. Most food poisoning cases involve common bacteria like E. coli. It can affect just one person, or food poisoning can occur as an outbreak in a group of people who ate the same food. Common places where food poisoning occurs are school cafeterias, picnics and large social gatherings. In these places, food preparation techniques may be unsanitary, or food may be left outside the refrigerator for too long. Food poisoning also often occurs as a result of eating dairy products, undercooked meat or food that contains mayonnaise.


The most dangerous possibility for someone who complains about stomach pain after eating is stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer). Although incidents of gastric cancer have decreased dramatically in the U.S. since the 1900s, it is still possible. See a doctor to determine if there are serious underlying causes for your stomach pain.