Left side chest pain after eating is usually associated with heart issues. While this is a possible cause, it is not always the heart that triggers eating-related chest discomfort on the left side.
What causes left chest pain after eating?
These are the most common causes of left side chest pain after eating:
- cardiovascular problems
- acid reflux
- peptic ulcers
- food allergy or intolerance
Probably fatty and sugary foods are the most common triggers, but – depending on the underlying condition – a wide variety of foods might trigger symptoms.
Upper left chest pain after eating
The heart, pancreas, kidney, or acid reflux might trigger upper left chest pain after having a meal.
- The heart usually causes pressure or tightness around the center and the left side of the chest, which might radiate in the left shoulder, arm, jaw. Dizziness and sweating are also possible symptoms.
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is a common trigger of left side pain. While upper stomach pain is the most typical symptom, the pain might radiate into the left side of the chest, left arm, and shoulder. Fever, nausea, and rapid pulse are also common symptoms.
- The kidneys cause sharp back pain, which might radiate into the chest. Acute kidney disease can trigger chest pain or pressure.
- During an acid reflux episode, stomach acids flow back into the esophagus. These acids can irritate the lining of the food pipe, causing a burning sensation around the middle of the chest. Sometimes this might also radiate to the left side.
Sharp chest pain on the left side after eating
Sharp pain after eating usually indicates an acute health problem. Heart issues or acute pancreatitis might trigger sharp pain, especially after eating greasy foods.
Sometimes acid reflux triggered heartburn causes so severe pain, that might be mistaken for a heart attack.
If the sharp left side chest pain doesn’t go away within a few minutes, don’t try to guess what the underlying cause is, call your doctor right away!
Mild chest pain left side after eating
Occasional mild chest pain, especially after large meals, can be normal.
However, if you are experiencing such mild pain regularly, you should take it seriously. Chances are there is an underlying health issue that triggers the pain, which should be diagnosed by a doctor!
Lower left chest pain after eating
Eating-related pain around the lower left part of the chest might come from the abdomen. Pancreatitis or an enlarged spleen might cause such symptoms.
- An inflamed pancreas can cause pain in various body parts on the left side.
- An enlarged spleen usually doesn’t cause symptoms, however, after a large meal it might cause pain in the upper left abdomen and lower left chest, around the left rib cage, and diaphragm.
Left chest pain and the heart
Heart pain in the left side of the chest might feel like a severe, sharp, crushing, or stabbing pain, while other feel pressure, tightness, or sometimes only mild discomfort.
Fatty foods – like fried food or junk food – are the most common triggers of heart pain.
Myocardial infarction, better known as heart attack, is a very alarming cause of pain on the left side of the chest. Heart attacks occur with the rupture of the surface that covers the fatty deposits or plaque in an artery, this may then result in blockage by blood clots or thrombus.
The muscles of the heart depend on these arteries for their supply of blood and may start to collapse because of a lack of oxygen-rich blood being supplied. If the artery remains blocked for longer than 15 minutes the tissues in the chest area start to die and cause left side chest pain.
Besides left side chest pain, here are some of the other symptoms that are associated with a heart attack:
- nausea or vomiting
- shortness of breath
- dizziness or irregular heartbeat
- pain spreading from the chest to the back
A large greasy meal, e.g. red meats, might cause heart problems after eating. If you are experiencing eating-related left chest pain with the above-listed symptoms, you might need emergency medical help.
Angina after eating
Angina pectoris is one of the most common symptoms of left side chest pain. It is a serious form of pain mostly experienced by middle-aged people.
Angina is best described as a feeling of pressure, tightness, and constriction in the left side area of the chest. The pain usually spreads throughout the lower jaw, shoulder, neck, back, arm, and hand.
You might experience angina after having a large meal or eating greasy foods.
Left side chest pain due to gas
Gas within theintestines and stomach can trigger upper abdominal pain or chest pain. Depending on where the gas gathers, the pain can be felt on the left side.
What causes gas after eating?
These are the most common reasons for having gas after eating:
- When we are eating, we all swallow some gas. Those who are eating too fast usually swallow more gas.
- Certain foods are more likely to cause gas. Common gas-forming foods are not only fatty, spicy, fried, or sugary foods but also certain fruits and vegetables.
- People with certain medical conditions are more likely to experience gas after meals. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, food intolerance are typical examples of health issues that cause gas.
Gas can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish a gas pain from a heart attack. When you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above in the “Heart Attack” section, you should contact your doctor right away!
Can heartburn cause left side chest pain?
Heartburn happens when stomach acids can seep up into the food pipe (acid reflux) and start to irritate its lining, causing a burning sensation. This means that heartburn is most often experienced around the center of the chest, under the breastbone.
However, in some cases, the pain can radiate into the left side of the chest.
Other common symptoms of acid reflux are regurgitation, the difficulty of swallowing, and a sour taste in the mouth.
Less common symptoms are shoulder, back, arm, or neck pain.
Sometimes chest pain from heartburn can be so severe, that people think they have a heart attack. As symptoms may overlap, when in doubt, always ask for medical help!
Aside from the causes mentioned above, it is sometimes lifestyle considerations that are responsible for left side chest pain. These are mostly associated with stress, obesity and, diabetes.
Stress can often be the main factor, people who go through stress often complain of a certain pain in the left side of their chest. Although stress itself does not automatically lead to a heart attack, it is, nevertheless, a contributory factor, along with other health considerations.
Other lifestyle causes are related to obesity and diabetes; both are by-products of modern life and are linked to overeating, smoking, and drinking.
How to treat left side chest pain after eating?
So before you actually treat whatever left chest pain you are feeling, try to consult your doctor for a diagnosis. Once your left chest pain is ascertained, specific treatment should be followed.
If in case you are experiencing a serious symptom like angina or heart attack, immediate medical attention must be initiated. These symptoms usually trigger sharp pain in the shoulder blades and jaws, with nausea, tightened chest, dizziness, and blurry vision.
You should also consider prescribed medications to lessen the pain. When the pain is due to arterial blockage, a procedure like angioplasty may be an option.
If acid reflux is causing you pain, a reflux-friendly diet might go a long way in relieving the pain.
If you have been experiencing left chest pain for more than a year now, aside from seeking proper medical attention, you might want to change your lifestyle to help alleviate the discomfort.
Unexpected left side chest pain after having a meal shouldn’t be ignored. Especially if the pain is sharp, radiates into the arms, shoulder, or jaw. Make sure to call a doctor right away if you are experiencing such symptoms since your chest pain is probably cardiac.
The typical cause of non-cardiac chest pain after eating is acid reflux. Some lifestyle changes and a proper diet might prevent or at least relieve the pain in this case. In more severe cases, you might need some medications.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, overeating can cause all kinds of symptoms, including chest pain on the left (or right) side.
It is hard to tell what causes the pain in such cases, it might be simple indigestion, but the heart, pancreas, or even the spleen might be the culprit.
If the pain is severe, you should contact a doctor right away!