Feeling dizzy after eating meals is common in the elderly, affecting about one-third of older men and women. It is not so common in younger people. This condition, also known as postprandial hypotension, can cause a dizzy feeling, or lightheadedness, which may lead to fainting or falling. Experiencing dizziness and fatigue occasionally after eating meals may not be a cause for concern, but if you are experiencing lightheadedness more often, it is important to consult your doctor.
When someone is experiencing dizziness after meals, he/she may not pay much attention to this condition. However, there are a wide variety of underlying causes that can trigger this condition, including overall health conditions, potential diseases, foods that one have eaten and medicine which one have taken.
There are many possible causes for dizziness especially in the elderly, of which the most common is postprandial hypotension. This condition indicates a drop of blood pressure (hypotension) after eating a meal (postprandial).
Blood circulates throughout the body, but there is usually an increase in blood flow in an area of the body where there is greatest activity. This is called the butterfly effect, where a small change in one area has a big effect on another area. Digestion is a complicated process, which requires a lot of blood flow to the organs performing the task, and this involves the stomach and intestines. To bring more blood to these large organs, the heart must pump faster and divert the blood flow from other parts of the body to the abdominal organs. As this happens, the blood vessels in other parts of the body normally contract to reduce blood flow, which is redirected to the intestines. This is the usual way the body maintains normal blood pressure.
In some people, especially the elderly, the heart is not able to increase its rate during digestion; sometimes the blood vessels in other parts of the body fail to constrict while blood flow is being diverted to the abdominal organs. These cause a fall in blood pressure after eating meals, which is known as postprandial hypotension. The sudden drop in blood pressure is felt as lightheadedness or dizziness after eating a meal, which may lead to loss of consciousness in severe cases. This condition is usually associated with other medical conditions that affect the body's ability to maintain normal blood pressure, such as diabetes, hypertension, or Parkinson's disease.
The inflammation of the lining of the stomach is called gastritis. Dizziness and fatigue after eating meals are common symptoms of gastritis. This condition may be caused by irregularity in eating meals, consuming improperly cooked food, excessive eating of oily foods, overeating, alcohol intake, and drinking strong coffee or tea.
The labyrinth is a part of the inner ear, which provides the individual a sense of balance. Any disorder that disturbs the labyrinth affects its function in maintaining balance, which may lead to dizziness after eating. Disorders of the labyrinth include labyrinthitis, benign positional vertigo, and Meniere's disease.
The blood vessels in older people often harden due to the formation of plaque or cholesterol deposits. This condition, also known as atherosclerosis, affects blood pressure maintenance, which may make people feel dizzy after eating.
A healthy heart is needed to pump blood faster during digestion. Certain heart conditions can lead to its inability to send enough blood to the abdominal organs, which may lead to a drop in blood pressure, resulting in dizziness and sometimes, nausea.
Certain thyroid gland disorders such as thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) may lead to dizziness after meal. Under activity of the thyroid or hypothyroidism may also cause you to feel dizzy and tired after eating.
Renal diseases affect the body's ability to maintain normal blood pressure and may manifest in symptoms that include dizziness after eating. Eating processed foods and other salty food often can worsen kidney disease and lead to symptoms like lightheadedness and fatigue.
Certain emotional conditions such as worry, stress, tension, grief, and depression can lead to symptoms like dizziness after meals. The symptoms may be worse in certain eating disorders like anorexia.
There are foods that can cause one to feel dizzy after eating, such as:
Some medicines can make you dizzy after eating, and these include diuretics, muscle relaxants antihistamines, and medications for controlling blood pressure control.
Dizziness after meals that occurs frequently may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Proper diagnosis and treatment may be needed to avoid further complications.
You must consult a doctor especially if symptoms occur often or if they cause problems such as fainting, falling, or confusion. Along with proper medical treatment, you can follow some daily self-care measures to manage your health, such as: