There's nothing like a delicious turkey dinner — that is, unless your meal leaves you with an upset stomach. So, does turkey cause gas, stomach cramps or other digestive issues?
Turns out turkey can indeed cause stomach problems. Here are four reasons why you may have gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal cramping, bloating and gas after eating turkey.
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1. You Ate Too Quickly
If you have stomach cramps or gas after eating turkey, it may have more to do with how you ate, rather than what you ate. That's because you can swallow excess air when you eat too fast, which — you guessed it — can lead to gas and gas pain, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The fix? Tuck into your turkey a little more slowly to avoid swallowing too much air.
2. You Have an Allergy
If you have stomach issues every time you eat turkey and other meat, you may have a meat allergy. Though this type of allergy is rare, it does occur, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Besides abdominal cramping, a meat allergy can cause symptoms like:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in throat
- Swelling, often on your mouth and lips
- Weak pulse
- Pale or blue coloring of the skin
It's also important to consider the other foods, condiments and spices included in the turkey dish you ate, as you may be experiencing a reaction to another ingredient. Per the Mayo Clinic, common food allergens include:
- Shellfish like shrimp, lobster and crab
- Tree nuts like walnuts and pecans
- Cow's milk
The fix? Avoid turkey (or the food in the dish that triggered a reaction) to prevent potentially dangerous allergic symptoms.
Some people may have a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which causes your throat to close up and makes it difficult to breathe, per the ACAAI. Seek medical care immediately if this happens to you.
3. You Have a Food Intolerance
If turkey causes gas or stomach upset frequently, a food intolerance may be to blame. This is when you have difficulty digesting certain foods, per the National Health Service, and can lead to symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
- Skin rash or itching
According to the Mayo Clinic, you may have a food intolerance for the following reasons:
- You have irritable bowel syndrome
- You're sensitive to food additives
- You don't have an enzyme needed to digest a specific food
The fix? If you regularly have gastrointestinal issues like cramps, gas or diarrhea after eating turkey, it may be best to skip the dish.
Food Allergy vs. Intolerance
A food intolerance is different than a food allergy. Here's how you tell them apart: An allergy causes a range of symptoms (including digestive, respiratory and skin-related issues), whereas an intolerance is typically less severe and mainly produces digestive symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic.
4. You Got Food Poisoning
An isolated instance where you develop digestive issues several hours after eating turkey may be related to food poisoning.
Foodborne illness occurs when you eat something contaminated with an infectious organism like a parasite, bacteria or virus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Raw or undercooked turkey or turkey left at room temperature for too long may allow these disease-causing organisms to flourish.
Symptoms of food poisoning can include:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
The fix? Handle your turkey safely, and make sure to properly cook meat before you eat it.
Most cases of food poisoning resolve on their own within a few days. But if you have bloody vomit or stool, have diarrhea for more than three days or experience extreme pain, visit your doctor, per the Mayo Clinic.
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.