Chest pain after eating too fast

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Eating too fast is associated with many symptoms, including pain in the chest, stomach, or throat.

The most common underlying conditions are acid reflux, indigestion, and esophageal spasms.

Symptoms of eating too fast

What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Too Quickly?
A great and short video about eating too fast. Duration: 1:25.

In most cases, fast eating is usually part of an overall fast-paced lifestyle. If you are always working tirelessly, driving, and walking fast, chances are, you end up falling into the habit of eating fast.

And from your point of view, you may not know that you are a fast eater. Here are the main symptoms of eating too fast:

  • Chest pain after eating: Because this habit leads to acid reflux, the acid from your stomach may cause discomfort in your chest.
  • Painful digestion: A stomach ache might develop due to overworking your digestive tract.
  • You won’t feel full: It takes up to 20 minutes for the human brain to register feelings of fullness. Therefore, gulping your entire dinner in 5 minutes will make you feel hungry and you might overeat as well.
  • Bloating: You may also get bloated because of eating too fast.
  • Gas: Fast eating is often characterized by swallowing excess air which can make you gassy.
  • Pain in other body parts: Pain in the stomach or chest caused by eating too fast might radiate to other parts of your body, e.g. shoulders and back.

Chest pain after eating too fast

One of the main health conditions caused by eating too fast is acid reflux or – in more serious cases – medically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a very common cause of chest discomfort related to eating quickly.

A study from 2021 examined 320 people and found that fast food intake was one of the four significant independent factors associated with GERD. (Smoking, stress, and being unmarried were the other three.)

Acid reflux occurs when acids wash up into the esophagus. Its main symptoms are heartburn and chest pain.

Acid reflux is the leading cause of chest pain after eating too fast. If you experience symptoms like:

  • pain around the center of the chest
  • swallowing problems
  • sour taste in the mouth
  • regurgitation

at least twice per week then you may have reflux and you should seek medical help and change your diet.

Failure to do so might lead to the development of severe complications.

Does eating fast cause heartburn?

Heartburn, the typical symptom of acid reflux, is often associated with eating too fast. However, it looks like the real problem is not the speed but the amount.

There aren’t too many scientific studies about the speed of eating and heartburn. most seem to agree that eating quickly might lead to heartburn.

A 2013 study concluded that:

Speed of food intake has no significant impact on acidic reflux attacks in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. The classical advice “eat slowly” may not have any scientific basis.

(source)

This study says that eating beyond fullness is a common risk factor for heartburn.

As mentioned above, our brain needs about 20 minutes to realize that the stomach is full. Those who eat too fast are more likely to overeat, and overeating is risk factor for heartburn.

Stomach pain & indigestion after eating too fast

Eating too fast often causes indigestion and stomach pain. This usually happens because:

  1. You don’t chew your food well, which makes digestion harder.
  2. It is easy to eat too much when eating too fast, which puts further pressure on your digestion system.
  3. When we eat fast, we tend to consume junk food – fatty, spicy, fried, sugary food – that is hard to digest.

The result of this can easily be an upset stomach even if you are completely healthy.

However, if you have an existing health problem in your digestive system, it might make to pain worse.

Sharp stomach pain after eating too fast is never a good sign, especially if it lasts for hours or if you are experiencing other symptoms, like nausea or fever. In such cases, you might want to talk to a doctor right away!

These are some of the common diseases that could cause indigestion after eating too fast:

  • Gallbladder problems: Inflammation and gallstones. Usually triggered by fatty food, tend to cause pain in the right side of the abdomen.
  • Pancreatitis: The inflammation of the pancreas can cause stomach pain during or shortly after eating. Often triggered by fatty or sugary food. Pain often occurs on the left side.
  • Liver disease: Problems with the liver can also cause stomach pain. Usually triggered by fatty food, pain is felt in the upper right part of the abdomen.
  • Stomach ulcers: Spicy foods can irritate existing stomach ulcers, pain often happens in the middle and upper part of the stomach.

How to relieve stomach pain after eating too fast?

Since all the above complications are caused by eating too fast, the best prevention is to do the exact opposite – slow down, chew your food well.

However, if you are already suffering from any of the symptoms of eating too fast, these simple tips might help to relieve them:

  • Take a short walk. This can help your body digest food faster.
  • Light physical activities, like some yoga poses, might also be beneficial.
  • Avoid hard exercises, especially bending over.
  • Do not lie down shortly after eating.
  • Small sips of water might also help, but don’t drink too much, as that can make your symptoms worse.
  • Try probiotics. Probiotics like buttermilk or yogurt can speed up the digestion process. Probiotic capsules contain a wider variety of good bacteria, that might positively affect the digestion process.

You should cut calories, train your mind to feel full on less food. Try crafting a healthy diet that you should adhere to strictly.

Making these changes will put your weight back on track and can make chest and stomach pain go away.

Does eating too fast cause gas and bloating?

Yes, people often experience bloating and gas after eating too fast. The two main reasons for this are:

  • Those who eat fast swallow more air. Excess air in the digestive system makes you feel bloated.
  • While chewing, the food mixes with saliva. Saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, that starts the digestion process. When eating fast, amylase doesn’t have enough time to do its work, therfore digestion in the stomach might produce more gas.

Obesity

New study says eating too fast makes people gain weight
A short video about eating too fast and obesity. Duration: 1:49.

When you eat too fast, as mentioned earlier, you won’t feel full until you’ve eaten too much. As a result, you end up eating more food than you should.

In the long run, fat will accumulate in your body and you risk becoming obese.

Some studies have shown that people who eat fast feel hungrier than those who eat leisurely.

The reason for this is that this habit may alter hormones that control appetite and feelings of fullness.

Throat hurts after eating too fast

Besides acid reflux, many other conditions can trigger throat pain when eating too fast:

  • Eating too fast causes large bolus formation because of deficient chewing, which can not pass easily through the throat during swallowing and stimulate nerve endings that cause pain in the throat.
  • Eating too fast may lead to silent reflux disease which causes regurgitation of food and acidic contents of the stomach into the throat and causes throat irritation.
  • Accumulation of food particles in your mouth and throat can put a strain on the muscle of the pharynx and induce pain. Eating too fast also induces coughing that might cause inflammation of the throat and induce pain.
  • Eating too fast causes hiccups that occur due to diaphragmatic contraction and cause throat pain.
  • Eating too fast makes you obese. Obesity causes fat accumulation around the neck and chest which can put pressure on your throat and cause pain or esophageal dysfunction. It can also aggravate the pain in a person with preexisting throat diseases.

Final thoughts

As you can see, eating too fast can have a negative impact on your health. Learning how to eat leisurely can help prevent all these complications and ensure that you enjoy every bite.

The typical symptoms of eating too fast are chest and stomach pain. The pain is usually not sharp and goes away with time.

However, if you have an underlying health problem, like heart disease, gallstones, pancreatitis, etc., the pain might be sharp and severe. You might require immediate medical help in such cases.

So slow down, chew your food well all the problems you read about in this article are less likely to develop!

Frequently asked questions

Can you get heartburn from eating too fast?

Yes, eating too fast might trigger acid reflux symptoms, like heartburn.

Not chewing your food well, eating too much makes it more likely that stomach acids can flow back into the food pipe, irritating its lining. You’ll feel this as a burning sensation in your chest, called heartburn.

Can eating too fast make your stomach hurt?

Yes, even if you are completely healthy. Too much food, especially if it was not chewed properly forces your digestive system to work very hard and might cause indigestion.

If you have a disease or inflammation somewhere in your digestive tract, it might make the symptoms more likely and more severe.

Does eating too fast make you fat?

Eating too fast can make you fat. This study found that children who ate rapidly had three times the risk of being overweight.

The two main reasons are: fast eaters tend to overeat and they tend to eat junk food with high calorie and low fiber content.

Does eating fast make you full?

Eating enough food will make you full, no matter how fast you are eating.

The problem here is that your brain needs time (about 20 minutes) to realize that your stomach is full. So if you eat fast, your stomach might be full but your brain still tells you to eat more.

This leads to overeating and weight gain.

Can eating too fast cause a heart attack?

According to this study: “Eating speed was associated with obesity and future prevalence of Metabolic syndrome”. This means eating too fast can lead to heart problems in the long term.

Can eating too fast cause esophageal spasms?

Even though the exact causes of esophageal spasms (painful contractions of the esophagus) are unknown, some people do experience this symptom after eating too fast.

Too hot and too cold drinks are the most common triggers, but eating quickly and dry food might also be the culprit.

Such spasms can cause a sharp pain around the center of the chest.