ZocdocAnswersWhy do I get so tired I have to go to bed every time I eat even a little bit of food?

Question

Why do I get so tired I have to go to bed every time I eat even a little bit of food?

over 10 years ago I had an episode for a couple weeks where everything I ate was painful but I never had a relapse. At the time the only issue the doctors found was reflux. I don't know if that episode from over 10 years ago is related or not

Answer

Feeling pain with eating and feeling fatigue with eating are probably separate problems, and I suggest discussing this with your primary care physician. From the information you provided it sounds like your current problem is only fatigue after eating. It is actually common to feel somewhat fatigued after eating and this is not usually indicative of any specific medical problem. The explanation for why it is normal to feel somewhat tired after eating has to do with the way our nervous system is wired. There is a division of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system that regulates the involuntary functions of our body. The autonomic nervous system has two divisions, called the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. These two branches have opposite functions and are constantly in a state of balance, where if one increases activity, the other has to decrease its activity. To simplify things, the basic function of the sympathetic nervous system is to excite the body leading to alertness and readiness for a "fight or flight" response to danger, while the function of the parasympathetic nervous system is "rest and digest", meaning it calms the body and regulates digestive activity. Eating triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in because it is needed to regulate digestion, but a side effect of this is that it also puts the body into a calm, restful state. So if you feel slightly tired after eating, this could just be a normal phenomenon due to your body's involuntary nervous system. However, if you are feeling generally fatigued, experiencing decreased appetite, and losing weight, this is a cause for concern. The worst case scenario is that this combination of symptoms can be a sign of cancer somewhere in the body, especially in older patients and those who have risk factors for cancer such as tobacco smoking or a strong family history of cancer. If you are experiencing generalized fatigue, decreased appetite, and unintended weight loss, you must visit a primary care physician for a complete examination as soon as possible to ensure that these symptoms are due to an underlying serious illness such as a digestive disorder, depression, or cancer.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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