Onset Of Non-Specific Abdominal Pain After Meals

What Causes General Abdominal Pain Only After Meals?

General abdominal pain only after meals can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'critical'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose general abdominal pain only after meals, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "general abdominal pain only after meals" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Overconsumption
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Mesenteric Ischemia
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Crohn's Disease

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
discontinued non-human estrogen use
liver/gallbladder cleanses help
orange stool color
severe meal-increased pain
occasional unexplained vomiting
moderate abdominal pain
past and future vaccination
severe gluten intolerance
pain between shoulder blades
very frequent stools
meals worsen right iliac pain
Crohn's disease in remission
... and more than 110 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of general abdominal pain only after meals:
Cause Probability Status
Ulcerative Colitis 99% Confirm
Gallbladder Disease 20% Unlikely
Crohn's Disease 20% Unlikely
Gastroenteritis 3% Ruled out
Overconsumption 0% Ruled out
Mesenteric Ischemia 0% Ruled out
Gluten Sensitivity 0% Ruled out
Lactose Intolerance 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate abdominal pain caused by eating, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you regularly experience general abdominal pain that begins roughly 20 minutes to 3 hours after eating a meal?
Possible responses:
→ No / I have it even when I don't eat / don't know
→ No, only rarely / a few times a year or less
→ Yes, it started less than 1 week ago
→ Yes, it started about 1 to 4 weeks ago
→ Yes, I've had it for 1 month or more
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate infrequent meal-induced pain, meal-induced pain for under a week, meal-induced pain for 1-4 weeks or meal-induced pain for over a month, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Atrophic Gastritis

In cases of chronic gastritis, pain usually appears almost immediately after a meal, especially if the food is coarse or sour.

Gallbladder Disease

Inflammation or other dysfunction of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) or biliary tract (angiocholitis) often causes pain in the abdomen, generally towards the right-hand side.  The pain is more likely to occur after large and/or fatty/oily/fried meals.

Gastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers

Stomach ulcers normally cause pain within 1-1½ hours of eating a meal; duodenal ulcers usually result in pain that starts 1½-2 hours after a meal.


If symptoms come on suddenly and severely, it is classed as acute gastritis.  If it has lasted a long time (usually because of bacterial infection), it is chronic gastritis.

Mesenteric Ischemia

Because total blood flow to the intestine can vary from 25% when fasting to 35% after eating, symptoms are more prevalent after eating.

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