Feeling full and bloated after eating can be due to the foods you consume or eating too fast, but if you experience it consistently after every meal, regardless of what you eat, an underlying gastrointestinal problem could be the cause. Several disorders are associated with feeling bloated and full after eating, but the only way to get a proper diagnosis is to consult your physician.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder that is often associated with bloating and a feeling of fullness after eating. Other symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain that comes and goes, diarrhea and constipation. The symptoms are often relieved after a bowel movement. Symptoms range from mild to severe but are mild in most people. There are no tests for IBS, but a doctor can diagnose you based on symptoms. The cause of IBS is unknown, but it is often made worse by stress.
The symptoms of gluten sensitivity, like IBS, vary from person to person. In addition to abdominal bloating and fullness after eating, common symptoms include headaches, joint pain and numbness in the arms or legs. These symptoms may occur within hours or days after ingesting gluten. Although the exact underlying cause is unknown, gluten sensitivity occurs when an individual who has this condition consumes gluten, which causes an autoimmune reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine. As a result, the small intestine can no longer absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients properly. Gluten is found in grains such as oats and barley.
Lactose intolerance can cause stomach fullness and bloating after eating. It is caused by the body's inability to digest the sugar lactose, which is commonly found in dairy products -- particularly milk. Approximately 30 million American adults have some amount of lactose intolerance by the time they turn 20 years old. Symptoms include abdominal bloating and fullness after consuming dairy products, along with cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Consult your doctor if you suspect you have lactose intolerance.
While IBS, lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity are some conditions that can lead to feeling bloated and full after every meal, there are many other disorders than can cause the same symptoms. Malabsorption syndromes, gastroesophageal reflux and swallowing air while eating can lead to feeling full and bloated after eating. Intolerance to certain foods cans also cause similar symptoms. In rare cases, cancer of the stomach or small intestine are the culprits. If you are experiencing the bloating and full feeling on a regular basis after eating, it's important to consult a doctor to rule out any serious gastrointestinal disorders.