Some people experience shortness of breath or wheezing after eating. There are many reasons why this happens.
It may feel like your chest is tight or you are choking. This Difficulty breathing, (shortness of breath) can be worrisome if new or starting to occur frequently. If you’ve never experienced it, you may not even be sure what shortness of breath feels like.
Shortness of breath may occur if food is accidentally inhaled into the respiratory system, which may be related to an existing medical problem, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can also be a symptom of a severe food allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
This article will introduce you to common causes of breathing difficulties after meals. It will also help you identify when you need medical attention.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. Shortness of breath after eating may be the first symptom. It can happen within minutes of eating something you are allergic to. Shellfish, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts are the most common foods that cause allergies.
other symptoms, such as hives (hives) and swelling of the lips and airways, which usually occur with this severe allergic reaction. But that’s not always the case. Some people may only have respiratory symptoms and may feel like they are having an asthma attack.
If your symptoms are severe, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.
If you have a food allergy and feel like you have a severe asthma attack after eating, take action right away.If so, use the specified epinephrine Auto-injector, such as Epi-Pen.
Epinephrine will help with allergic reactions and asthma attacks. It won’t hurt if you end up using it unnecessarily. On the other hand, if the problem is an allergic reaction, an asthma inhaler will not help.
After using the auto-injector, lie down and have someone call 911. If you have a further reaction, you will need medical observation and possible treatment.
Mild allergic symptoms may occur due to food allergies. If a food allergy is the cause of your symptoms, an allergist can help diagnose it.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency. For many people, this severe reaction is caused by a food allergy. Each allergic reaction is different, and common symptoms include difficulty breathing, vomiting, swollen lips, and a sudden itchy rash commonly known as hives. Don’t wait to call 911.
What to do in an allergic reaction emergency
People with heartburn may experience shortness of breath or start wheezing during or after a meal. This is caused by stomach acid back up into the throat. A tingling burning sensation after eating may be accompanied by wheezing or difficulty breathing.
A major cause of heartburn is physical weakness lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This group of muscles acts as a valve to prevent stomach contents from returning to the esophagus and into the throat and upper airways. If the LES is not working properly, stomach acid may move in the wrong direction.
If you have frequent heartburn, you may develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). People with GERD sometimes say they feel like something is stuck in their throat. Besides difficulty breathing, less common symptoms of GERD include coughing, hoarseness, or hiccups.
Some lifestyle changes can help reduce your heartburn attacks. They include losing weight, avoiding alcohol and not smoking. You may also want to limit exposure to foods that can cause heartburn, such as fried or spicy foods.
How to Treat Heartburn
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive and irreversible lung disease. Smoking or exposure to smoking is the leading cause of COPD.
Over time, airway and lung damage from COPD makes it harder for air to get in and out. Airflow limitation makes breathing more difficult and can lead to chronic coughing and chest tightness.
People with COPD may experience shortness of breath after eating because large meals take up a lot of space in the chest and stomach. This puts pressure on the lungs and diaphragm, the strong muscles that separate the chest organs from the abdomen and help with breathing.
Large meals also require more energy to digest, which can exacerbate the fatigue already experienced by people with COPD.
Eating small, frequent meals can help. Your diet can also be changed, such as eating less salt. Salt can cause fluid retention in people with COPD, which can lead to swelling, increased blood pressure, and worsening breathing.
If you have COPD and you are using supplemental oxygen, be sure to use it with food.
Why some healthy or everyday foods may make your COPD symptoms worse
In addition to the acid reflux that can occur with gastroesophageal reflux disease, this condition is often associated with asthma. These two problems often coexist and affect each other.
Any acid flushed into the airways can irritate these tissues and can lead to an asthma attack. Additionally, asthma can cause the LES to relax, making it easier for stomach acid to enter the throat.
Making changes to your diet, such as avoiding acidic foods like coffee or tomatoes, may help. You may also want to try eating small, frequent meals to avoid eating too late. Talk to your healthcare provider about medications that can relieve your symptoms, such as Pepcid (famotidine) or Prilosec (omeprazole).
Could Acid Reflux Trigger Your Asthma?
A sort of hiatal hernia It is a condition in which part of the stomach is pushed up above the diaphragm. Symptoms, including heartburn, are similar to GERD. This condition can cause shortness of breath after eating.
There are many possible causes of a hiatal hernia, including obesity and smoking. There are also different types of hernias that may develop.
Surgery to repair a hiatal hernia is sometimes recommended to prevent acid reflux and help relieve shortness of breath.Researchers reviewed six studies on a specific type of hiatal hernia called paraesophagus Significant respiratory benefits have been found after hernia surgery.
It may not seem obvious, but the reason for feeling short of breath after eating may be related to a digestive disorder rather than a breathing problem. Heartburn, hiatal hernia, and gastroesophageal reflux disease are all possible causes.
You may experience shortness of breath during or after accidentally inhaling food or drink.
This is called airway aspiration. This means that the food, drink or saliva has entered the trachea or other part of the respiratory system, rather than the esophagus of the digestive system.
It is also not uncommon for people with GERD to inhale small amounts of stomach acid, usually while they are asleep.
If inhaled food feels like it is stuck and blocking your airway, call 911. You may also need someone to do a Heimlich test to try to clear food that is blocking your airways.
Usually, food comes loose when you cough. But complications can arise, especially in people with other medical problems, such as stroke, that weaken certain muscles and reflexes that help with swallowing and coughing.
Achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus that, among other things, makes it difficult to swallow. It can cause chronic aspiration. Coughing immediately after meals is a common symptom.
In some cases, people can develop aspiration pneumonia as a result of inhaling an infection. Antibiotics and even hospitalization and respiratory assistance may be required.
When to seek medical attention
No matter what the cause, difficulty breathing is a serious medical problem.
If you experience shortness of breath after eating and have a known food allergy, use an Epi-Pen or other medication and call 911. You may have a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Other health problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can cause difficulty breathing with meals. Talk to your healthcare provider about why you are having these problems and how to treat them.
If you are already being treated for a condition known to cause breathlessness and you still experience shortness of breath after eating, still see your provider. You may need to change your treatment plan or change your lifestyle.
Shortness of breath after eating can be associated with breathing problems, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Additionally, conditions that affect the digestive tract—including gastroesophageal reflux disease and hiatal hernia—may cause shortness of breath after eating. A severe food allergic reaction, which is a medical emergency, may also be the cause.
If eating affects your breathing, talk to your healthcare provider so you can get a proper diagnosis. Most conditions that cause shortness of breath have a better prognosis when treated early.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to reduce shortness of breath after meals?
Resting and sitting upright helps. If you use oxygen, make sure it is available. Severe symptoms can be life-threatening, so call 911 immediately.
Which foods can cause breathing problems?
An allergic reaction to certain foods can cause shortness of breath within minutes. Common foods that trigger this reaction include shellfish, peanuts, eggs, and milk.
How to tell if your shortness of breath is heart related?
Heart disease can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, arrhythmia, dizziness, and fainting. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away.