Stomach pain from eating peppers is most likely related to an allergic reaction, food intolerance or food poisoning. If you notice that peppers are the only food that cause your stomach to hurt, keep a journal of what kind of peppers you eat, how much of them you eat and how they affect your body. An allergic reaction to peppers is easy to identify because it will not only cause stomach pain but other symptoms unrelated to the digestive system. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms.
An allergic reaction to peppers can occur within a few minutes after eating peppers. It doesn't matter how the pepper is prepared or what kind of pepper it is you're eating. If you're allergic to peppers, you will feel symptoms including stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea as a result. Other symptoms that may develop as a result are hives, facial swelling, tingling in your skin, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain and sinus congestion. A food allergy is incurable and only treated through avoidance.
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It's possible that you have intolerance to the proteins found in peppers. An intolerance is not the same condition as an allergy. Food intolerances are the result of the inability to digest the proteins in the pepper, while an allergy is a reaction of the immune system to the proteins. After you eat peppers, your small intestines need to produce certain enzymes that will break down the proteins so they can be absorbed into your body. If you lack the proper enzymes, the proteins will go undigested and cause inflammation in the gut. This causes stomach pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Treating food allergies or food intolerances to peppers begins with a proper diagnosis. Both conditions require that you completely avoid consuming peppers. Check the label of every food you ingest because black pepper is a common ingredient in may prepackaged foods. When eating out, disclose your allergy to your server before you order your food. Cross-contamination can occur during the cooking process, which could trigger a pepper allergy even if your dish doesn't contain any pepper.
If you've been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, you should talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Certain vegetables can trigger IBS symptoms, leading to stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. IBS is a common digestive condition, affecting about one in six Americans, according to PubMed Health, a publication of the National Institutes of Health.
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.