Stomach pain after eating pizza can be caused by various conditions, but is most likely related to a food allergy, lactose intolerance or celiac disease. It is important that you talk with your doctor about your symptoms before you attempt to treat them. Pizza contains milk products, wheat and soy. These three ingredients can trigger various digestive complications, based on your condition. If your pain is severe you need to call your doctor right away.
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If you're allergic to milk, wheat or soy, you will develop stomach pain after eating pizza. Three of the most common food allergens are contained in pizza: milk, wheat and soy. The University of Maryland Medical Clinic states that food allergies are a lot less common than most people think, affecting about 2 percent of the adult American population. If you are allergic to a food, your immune system mistakes the proteins in the ingredient as dangerous and begins to defend the body as if it were under attack. This triggers the production of immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies unleash a plethora of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
Lactose intolerance is a common condition that causes stomach pain and other gastric symptoms within a half hour of eating dairy products. The cheese on the pizza contains lactose, a sugar found primarily in milk. If you're lactose intolerant your small intestines fail to produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the complex sugar. If you lack this enzyme, your intestines will become inflamed and irritated by the bacterium that forms to break down the lactose, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. You may be able to eat pizza without developing stomach pain if you take a lactase enzyme supplement before eating it.
Celiac disease is a common condition that is related to eating wheat products. Most pizza dough is made from wheat flour, containing gluten. Gluten is one of the proteins that are found in wheat. If you have celiac disease, your body's immune system attacks the villi in the small intestines when you eat gluten. Villi are small hair-like objects that line your small intestines that absorb nutrients and proteins into the body. The cause of this condition is still unknown, but eating gluten can cause severe stomach pain and long-term damage.
Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease
Gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD, might also be responsible for discomfort after eating pizza. Some common pizza toppings, including the tomatoes in pizza sauce, tomatoes themselves, pepperoni and onions can all aggravate GERD. If you suffer symptoms after eating pizza, experiment with removing toppings to see which ones are causing the problem.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.