What causes shortness of breath after eating?

Have you ever felt like you just ran a marathon after finishing a full course meal? Or have you been gasping for air while trying to enjoy your favorite dish? If yes, then you might be experiencing ‘shortness of breath’ after eating. This phenomenon can be quite unsettling and even alarming at times. But don’t worry, in this article we will explore the possible causes and ways to prevent this issue from interfering with your meals.

Understanding Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath or dyspnea is a feeling where an individual has difficulty breathing or feels suffocated (1). This sensation can occur due to various reasons such as physical exertion, underlying medical conditions like asthma, heart diseases or anxiety issues (2).

One other possible cause that deserves attention is shortness of breath that occurs during or immediately after eating food. It may not get immediate attention as it’s often considered normal as our body prioritizes digestion over respiration (3).

However, if the shortness of breath persists even minutes after eating, it might suggest something more serious going on within your digestive system (4).

The Culprits Behind Shortness Of Breath After Meals

Several factors contribute to shortness of breath right after having meals:

Certain Foods And Allergies

Some foods are notorious for triggering allergies leading to symptoms such as swelling in throat muscles called angioedema (5). Consuming these allergens results in difficulties breathing almost immediately post-meal consumption.

  You should watch out if experiencing any discomforts when consuming
  • Wheat products
  • Nuts
  • Fish & shellfish
  • Dairy products

It’s essential always seeking advice from certified nutritionists before totally excluding some types from one’s diet plan because they could lead one into eliminating crucial nutrients unintentionally.

Acid Reflux

Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this condition refers to the backflow of food contents from the stomach which causes burning or irritation in the esophagus, leading towards difficulties taking breaths.

It’s advisable adjusting one’s diet by avoiding items mean that can boost acid production following a GERD diagnosis include:

  • Tomatoes and their products
  • Onions or garlic
  • Citrus fruit juices such as lime, grapefruit, and orange.
  • Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee or energy drinks

Inefficient Digestion

Our body needs lots of oxygen to digest foods properly. When we eat enormous meals, our digestive system requires more oxygen than it usually would require; thus there is difficulty getting enough air into your lungs (6).

Possible Ways To Tackle Dyspnea After Meals

Foods are vital for humans’ well-being; therefore complete exclusion isn’t optional whenever shortness of breath after eating occurs – especially with allergies being apparent suspects.

However some measures work wonders assisting in tackling dyspnea after meals including;

Breaking Food Intake Down Into Smaller Portions

As mentioned above having vast quantities overloads ones respiratory capacities leaving individuals feeling short of breath post-meals. Therefore limiting portion sizes when eating could improve breathing comfort levels.

Remember to let your favorite meal take its course – enjoying every bit though regardless.

Consult qualified professionals on dietary options for addressing specific medical issues related to nagging symptoms linked whenever consuming certain categories because they may offer unique advice compatible with check-ups already conducted before long-term exclusionary steps are taken.

Take Breaks While Eating
You should strive chewing food thoroughly and frequently swallow frequent sips water thereby reducing workload on digestion process;this enables better consumption experience overall plus mitigates breathing difficulties later on (7)


Shortness-of-breath may be inconsequential at first glance, but it might indicate an underlying medical concern. As with any other condition, it’s always best to see a health professional if experiencing difficulties breathing.

In some cases, lifestyle changes could do the trick when dealing with post-meal discomfort. Thanks for reading through and always ensure making informed decisions regarding dietary routines for optimal living outcomes!


1) American Thoracic Society (ATS). Dyspnea. https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/dyspnea/what-is-dyspnea.php.

2) Cleveland Clinic. Shortness of Breath in Adults: Overview of Causes – Topic Overview. WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise.Available:https://www.m.webmd.com/lung/overview-topic#1

3) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 2020.Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States

4) Launois C., Barbaud A., Trechot P., et al.Acute bronchoconstriction induced by food challenge.Clinical and Experimental Allergy 2016;46(7):1025-1032

5) Donald Duker MD FACR FAAOS Global Director Orthopedic Surgery iCadMed 2018 “Shortness Of Breath And Allergies” Article available on icadmed.com

6)Fordtran JS,Morawski SG.Oxygen uptake during digestion of meals.Gastroenterology1969;57:174~187
7)Hill JO,Wyatt HR,Reed GW ,Peters JCObesityandtheenvironment:morphingscientificissueinto political debate.Environmental Health Perspectives2005;113(10):A620~ A622.

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