Abdominal Pain & Diarrhea After Eating Salsa

Salsa is intended to be enjoyed, but for some people, eating salsa can begin a chain of unpleasant symptoms. Abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating salsa might be related to food intolerance or food allergy, and your doctor might recommend performing an elimination diet to determine the exact ingredients in the salsa that are causing the pain and diarrhea. Any adverse reaction after eating should be reported to your doctor for further evaluation. Abdominal pain and diarrhea might be a sign of a more serious condition.

Salsa (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Food Intolerance

Salsa is made from tomatoes, onion, spices, sugar and other ingredients, and one or more of these ingredients might cause inflammation and irritation in your gut. Food intolerance occurs when your intestines fail to produce enough of the enzymes needed to break down certain sugars and proteins found in foods, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. The unprocessed foods cause the intestines to swell, leading to cramping, abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Allergic Reaction

Although none of the ingredients in salsa is considered a common food allergen, you can develop a food allergy to anything you ingest. A food allergy is less common than food intolerance and is more identifiable by its symptoms. An allergy involves the immune system, not just the digestive system. Common symptoms, in addition to abdominal pain and diarrhea, include hives, skin rashes, eczema, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion and throat irritation.

Other Considerations

Abdominal pain and diarrhea can be symptoms of many conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, and gallbladder disease. Certain foods, such as spicy foods, can trigger IBS, and one of the primary symptoms is stomach pain shortly after eating. Gallbladder disease occurs when your gallbladder is either inflamed, irritated or has gallstones. Abdominal pain and watery diarrhea are also common signs of food poisoning. Only your doctor can provide an adequate diagnosis.


Diarrhea is not considered harmful to the body, but the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse recommends seeing a doctor if you have diarrhea for more than three days, have a fever above 102 degrees, see blood in your stool, or suspect that you're dehydrated. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which a serious medical condition that can lead to death if not properly treated. Prevent dehydration by increasing your liquid intake at the first signs of diarrhea.

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