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7 Causes of Shortness of Breath After Eating

Apr 15, 2022 | Blog

Wheezing or shortness of breath after eating is not very common. It is a discomforting situation, and there are many health conditions linked to it. However, the issues may not be severe and can be dealt with easily. When you eat, you need to breathe; just like any other function, chewing and digesting food requires oxygen; this makes breathing harder while you eat.

What causes shortness of breath after eating? Give this piece a read to know all the potential causes.

Food Allergies

According to a study conducted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, around 4% of adults and 6% of children in the States suffer from food allergies; that result in shortness of breath after eating.

After you engulf the allergen, the response starts between minutes or hours. Food allergies are easily diagnosed via performing safe tests. The series include oral food challenges, which involve consuming common trigger foods for a reaction.

Once the list of potential stimuli is with you, steer clear of eating those foods so that you don’t suffer from shortness of breath.


Usually, breathing difficulty after eating is a symptom of an anaphylactic reaction. It is a life-threatening response to allergic triggers. Some of the other symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Throat tightness
  • Hives or skin rashes
  • Weak pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Voice changes
  • Nausea vomiting
  • Low BP

People suffering from food allergies should always carry an Epi-Pen with them. This device contains shots of epinephrine that counters allergic response. An epi-pen allows the patient to self-inject at the time of need. However, family members should also know how to use them just in case.

Inhaling Food Particles

People with hasty eating habits often inhale food particles that result in shortness of breath. This is known as pulmonary aspiration. Individuals with perfectly working lungs easily propel them out by coughing.

When people fail to cough the particle out of their lungs, they undergo aspiration pneumonia. It is a condition in which the lungs suffer from infection because of the lodged particle.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Foul mouth odor
  • Swallowing troubles
  • Fever
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue

Mostly, antibiotics are sufficient for treating the reaction.

Heart Burn

Wheezing and shortness of breath are expected with heartburn after eating. In this condition, the stomach pushes the acids to the pipe that opens at the mouth. Heartburn is a common sign of acid reflux disease.

H2 receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and antacids are some categories that help to neutralize or reduce stomach acids. Moreover, lifestyle and dietary changes help in combating painful symptoms.

Hiatus Hernia

A hernia is a condition in which a tissue or an organ squeezes into a body part where it should not be. In this condition – hiatus hernia, the stomach pops up into the chest’s region through the muscle wall, which keeps the diaphragm and abdomen apart. This kind of hernia worsens after eating meals resulting in shortness of breath.

Asthma and GERD relationship

Individuals with asthma experience breathing difficulties after eating food which worsens if they suffer from GERD. How does this happen? When stomach acids touch the esophagus line and irritate it, as a consequential reaction, brain cells send signals to narrow down the airway resulting in shortness of breath.


A progressive lung disease that makes it troublesome for the body to inhale and exhale air from the lungs. COPD sufferers face fatigue and trouble breathing that affects mundane tasks. Few tips that may help manage this condition:

  • Eat slowly
  • Do not lie down after eating
  • Do not eat compulsively

Contact Your Doctor

Shortness of breath after meals may be a result of an underlying medical condition. Contact Tomball, TX pulmonologist at Pulmonary Medical Consultants for a checkup at 281 357 1300.


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