The cause of symptoms such as dizziness and feeling sick can be difficult to pinpoint. A plethora of culprits are possible. If you are experiencing these symptoms after eating, however, it should be easier for you and your doctor to figure out what's wrong. You may be surprised to learn that some potential causes have little to do with your gastrointestinal system.
Prepping and cooking raw food properly is essential to prevent foodborne illness. When it comes to toxic seafood poisoning, however, adhering to safe cooking techniques does not kill marine toxins. These naturally occurring chemicals accumulate in fish and shellfish without affecting their taste, smell or appearance. Both nausea and dizziness can occur after eating toxic seafood. Other symptoms such as weakness, headache, muscle aches and vomiting may also develop. Marine toxins may be found in fish caught in Hawaii and other South Pacific islands, as well as shellfish caught in New England waters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get medical attention immediately if you think you have seafood poisoning. Staying informed about any toxin warnings from health departments or other government agencies is important to avoid future illness.
Another possible cause of your symptoms after eating is postprandial hypotension. It affects approximately one-third of older adults, according to a 2010 issue of the "Harvard Heart Letter." This condition may cause you to feel dizzy, nauseous or lightheaded after eating. Your blood pressure changes as your body goes through the digestive process. If your body is unable to handle the sudden demand for these changes, low blood pressure in the areas of the body not involved in digestion may result. In addition to feeling sick and dizzy, you may have chest pain, vision problems and a propensity for falling. Ironically, being hypertensive may raise your risk for postprandial hypotension, because your arteries are unable to adequately respond to necessary blood pressure changes.
If you've experienced a tension or migraine headache in the past, you know firsthand that they can affect much more than just your head. Overeating food can lead to a tension headache and cause both nausea and dizziness. Certain foods can also trigger migraines. Examples include chocolate, dairy foods, nuts, onions and processed meats -- such as bacon -- that contain nitrates. Beyond feeling sick and dizzy, migraines can cause severe effects including vomiting, fatigue and vision problems.
If your symptoms are the result of headaches, identifying your triggers is important. Removing these foods from your diet -- or at least limiting your intake -- will help prevent the bothersome effects. Certain foods may also increase your chances of having postprandial hypotension episodes. White foods -- such as potatoes, white bread and white rice -- go through the digestive process quickly, making low blood pressure episodes more likely. Eating smaller meals made up of complex carbohydrates and protein may help you gain some control over this condition.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Marine Toxins; October 2005
- "Harvard Heart Letter"; Eating Can Cause Low Blood Pressure; July 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Tension Headache; Steven D. Ehrlich; September 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Migraine Headache; Steven D. Ehrlich; September 2009