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If You Feel This When You Swallow, You May Need a Doctor

When in doubt, check it out.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Preventative care is crucial for long-term wellness—so never ignore strange or unexplained health issues. "While care for medical emergencies is critical, preventive care is also important to optimize health, especially among older adults," says Laurie Archbald-Pannone, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Virginia. "As a geriatrician and professor of medicine, I think one of the best things the US healthcare system could do now is focus on preventive care, particularly for older adults." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Diarrhea

open the bathroom door, go to toilet
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Diarrhea after eating could be a sign of food poisoning. "Vomiting or having diarrhea is not always a bad thing in some situations," says gastroenterologist Christine Lee, MD. "It's your body's way of getting rid of the offending agents like an infection, toxins and other things before they're absorbed."

2

Nausea

Nausea after eating could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). "If your irritable bowel syndrome is acting up and you have stool stored in your colon, then your nausea can get worse because what doesn't go down will eventually come up," says Dr. Lee.

3

Light-Headedness

Stressed unhappy woman touching forehead, suffering from strong headache or chronic migraine
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Feeling dizzy or light-headed after a meal could be a sign of postprandial hypotension, a condition where blood pressure drops after eating. "In some people, the heart and blood vessels don't respond as they should," says Harvard Health. "That causes blood pressure to decrease everywhere but the digestive system. The sudden drop usually announces itself as dizziness or lightheadedness. Postprandial hypotension causes some people to fall, others to faint. It can trigger the chest pain known as angina, disturb vision, or cause nausea. It has even been reported to trigger the mini-strokes known as transient ischemic attacks."

4

Stomach Pain

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home
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Stomach pain after eating could be linked to stress. "When we're stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body," says Nina Gupta. MD. "This can negatively impact gut motility, or the way our intestines and stomach squeeze and move waste through the body. Also, stress can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, causing GI discomfort. People experiencing chronic stress may also eat more or eat unhealthy foods with a higher amount of natural and artificial sugar that is poorly digested and causes GI distress. People may also smoke and drink more alcohol or caffeine than normal which can cause symptoms."

5

Heartburn

Asian young woman feeling discomfort as suffering from heartburn holding chest with closed eyes and sitting with folded legs on couch at home.
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Chronic heartburn—or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—could lead to serious health conditions such as cancer, doctors warn. "If left untreated, not only is quality of life reduced, but there are other serious implications, one being the development of Barrett's esophagus," says gastroenterologist Preston Stewart, M.D. "This is essentially a precancerous change that occurs in the esophagus due to stomach acid exposure over a period of years. A fraction of people with longstanding, untreated reflux disease can develop esophageal cancer."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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