Why You May Feel Uncomfortably Full After Eating

Posted By Author on November 5, 2021


There are many potential reasons why you may experience digestive discomfort and feel uncomfortable after eating a meal. Overeating can be the cause but there are other symptoms that can also point to more serious disorders. It may be gastroparesis.

If feelings of fullness occur constantly, even after eating small portions, gastroparesis can be to blame. Gastroparesis is a form of digestive tract paralysis that delays gastric emptying. It is a condition that is becoming more widely recognized, especially in women. This chronic condition slows down or stops food in the digestive system, disrupting normal digestion.

At Charleston GI, our gastroenterology specialists are committed to providing relief. Our team provides more details about treating gastroparesis below.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

First, when your digested food material does not pass into the small intestines within a normal time frame, the following symptoms may result:

  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Heartburn / Acid reflux / Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling full quickly even when consuming small portions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Low blood sugar

These symptoms can lead to further complications as well as a decreased quality of life. The vagus nerve controls the stomach muscles. This typically causes stomach contractions that move stomach contents through the gastrointestinal tract. In some cases, vagus nerve damage is one possible cause of gastroparesis.

Sometimes, patients confuse gastroparesis and GERD. When diagnosed with gastroparesis it is because your stomach is unable to develop enough stomach acid to properly digest food or shift into your intestines to complete the digestion process. However, when diagnosed with GERD, this means your stomach acid moves up into your esophagus.

Risk Factors of Gastroparesis

Some common risk factors for gastroparesis include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Certain medications
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Infection
  • Nervous system disorders
  • And more!

Find Relief With The Help of A Charleston GI Specialist

There is unfortunately no definitive cure for gastroparesis. But medications and other procedures can help alleviate symptoms and stimulate stomach emptying and proper digestion.

Your Charleston GI gastroenterologist will likely recommend a blood test or an upper GI endoscopy instead to examine your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. An upper endoscopy is a procedure that utilizes a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end called an endoscope. Because you will be sedated during the procedure, we ask that all patients arrange for someone to drive them home after.

This procedure is also used to rule out other conditions that present with similar symptoms. For instance, the symptoms of GERD and stomach cancer are very similar. Our GI specialists are also experienced in diagnosing and treating other digestive conditions, such as Celiac Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Lastly, to provide relief from digestive conditions with the pancreas, acid reflux, heartburn, or other digestive issues, we will offer you aid. Charleston GI offers three convenient endoscopy centers throughout the area.

We have 4 locations throughout the Lowcountry. Our Charleston GI specialists are committed to providing a higher standard of caring. We welcome you to schedule your appointment today.

Is feeling full after eating a small meal normal?

It is perfectly normal to feel full after eating a large meal. But experiencing the same sensation of fullness after consuming only a small amount of food could be cause for concern. In many instances, there are plenty of normal factors that could account for a full stomach, including the following:

Eating Habits

Eating habits play a major role in feeling uncomfortably full after meals, especially for those who overeat, eat too quickly, or rely on food to relieve stress.

It’s also important to keep in mind that certain foods are more likely to cause bloating after meals, which can contribute to feeling full. These include foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, onions, and cabbage. Carbonated drinks may also leave you feeling bloated.

If eating habits or certain foods are to blame for stomach fullness, simply lifestyle changes can make a major difference. Your GI specialist may recommend the following to relieve symptoms:

  • Eat smaller portions
  • Eat slowly and mindfully
  • Stop eating when satisfied
  • Drink enough fluids
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoiding acidic foods and other foods/drinks that may cause bloating (beans, soda, fried foods,etc.)
  • Cut back on salt


Indigestion describes a group of symptoms that include the following:

  • Pain or burning sensations in the stomach
  • Feeling full soon after eating
  • Stomach growling or gurgling
  • Burping or gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

Occasional indigestion is very common and can often be successfully managed with dietary changes. Some people note that acidic foods, like tomatoes or orange juice, trigger unpleasant indigestion. Other things that may cause indigestion include:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Eating too fast
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use

Avoiding these triggers can help prevent indigestion, along with over-the-counter (OTC) antacids. But frequent indigestion can indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires treatment, so be sure to consult your Charleston GI doctor.


Constipation occurs when a person has fewer than three bowel movements per week, leaving the abdomen feeling full and uncomfortable. An individual with constipation may also experience:

  • Difficult to pass or painful bowel movements
  • Hard, dry, or lumpy stools
  • Incomplete bowel movements

Constipation is very common, and for mild cases, simple remedies often alleviate the problem – like eating more fiber, drinking enough water, and exercising. Some people may also benefit from OTC medications, such as stool softeners.

What are the severe reasons I may feel full?

Feeling full after eating a big meal is to be expected, but a stomach that feels uncomfortably full and tight often – or for no clear reason – could indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as gastroparesis.

Other chronic reasons you may feel full eating small amounts include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining
  • Pancreatitis, which causes pain or tenderness in the upper abdomen

Consult your Charleston GI doctor for diagnosis and treatment – and experience a higher standard of caring!

When should I speak to a doctor?

If you are experiencing persistent feelings of fullness or bloating, speak with your Charleston GI gastroenterologist. These symptoms could point to an underlying condition.

Seek medical care immediately if you have any severe or persistent symptoms, such as:

  • Unexplained/unintentional weight loss
  • Persistent bloating or feelings of fullness
  • Unusual changes in bowel movements or urination
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Bloody stool or urine
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Persistent abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms could indicate a serious condition, such as pancreatitis or cancer.

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