What could be causing these sudden stomach cramp when I eat pasta?
February 13, 2012 7:34 PM   Subscribe

What could be causing these sudden stomach cramp when I eat pasta?

I noticed in the last few months that I sometimes have cramps in my stomach when I eat pasta. The pattern is always the same: I swallow the first bite of a spaghetti plate and notice something weird in my stomach (no pain at this point). I swallow a second bite and the pain comes up almost immediately. For example, today the pain was so sharp that my mouth became watery as if I was about to throw up (but I didn't really feel like throwing up). It lasts for about 5-15 seconds and it goes away. Then I take a few seconds to let it settle down and I eat the rest of my plate as if nothing happened.

It happened today while I was having regular spaghetti for lunch. It has happened before with different spaghetti sauce and even with plain spaghetti pasta with butter. So I don't think the sauce is to blame.

But oddly enough, we also had lasagna for dinner (supper) using the same sauce as the spaghetti I had for lunch and it went down normally.

I'm not really concerned by this, I'm just curious to know more about this "condition". I've looked on Google and all the results are for people who are having stomach pains AFTER they eat pasta.
posted by kag to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If the pasta itself is not the problem (and it sounds like not, given that you can eat lasagna without distress) it's probably the way you're eating or swallowing the pasta. You might try taking a smaller bite and really chewing it first (it's so easy to just slurp it up, but maybe you're swallowing some air that way).
posted by elizeh at 7:47 PM on February 13, 2012

acid reflux?
sensitivity to wheat?
sensitivity to one or more of the ingredients in the pasta sauce?
posted by seawallrunner at 7:49 PM on February 13, 2012

Might you have an allergy to or an intolerance of wheat/gluten? Seems a likely culprit if you get sick every time you eat (any) pasta. But the fact that you said you didn't have a similar reaction to lasagna noodles confuses me. What about other foods that involve wheat/gluten? Similar problems there?
posted by Betty's Table at 7:49 PM on February 13, 2012

Not that I'll probably be able to help you anyway, but you could you be more specific about the quality of the pain and the location of the pain?

I know sometimes if I swallow something wrong I get immediate and quite painful gaseous pressure that feels like it's somewhere in my esophagus or something. It's real unpleasant, and then I guess I probably burp magnificently and feel better.
posted by TheRedArmy at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2012

It doesn't sound like you experience any issues at all AFTER the pasta has been consumed. Just after the first bite or two?

That really doesn't sound like a gluten intolerance. I'd investigate acid reflux or maybe you're swallowing too much air when you eat pasta?
posted by cooker girl at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2012

I seriously doubt you have a wheat allergy or intolerance of any kind. You would be having more serious problems after (sometimes much after) you ate ANY form of wheat, not just spaghetti.

I get acid reflux sometimes (which is most definitely what I read your symptoms as), and it is normally because I either don't chew it all the way (think about swallowing under-chewed spaghetti, it's basically a long string down your esophagus), if I eat too quickly, or if I'm drinking too much between bites. Also, tomato sauce almost always causes me some level of acid reflux, but it's significantly reduced if there is a dairy product (cheese) in there to balance out the acidity in the sauce (lasagna!).

Either way, you should talk to your doctor. Good luck!
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:57 PM on February 13, 2012

Does it always happen when you eat spaghetti? What about other non-noodle pastas like penne or bowties? What if it's in soup instead of sauce? Rice noodles?

It seems like it's only the first 2 or 3 swallows that cause problems, and after that you're fine. That seems to point to the esophagus or stomach as the cause. What happens if you eat a few bites of something else before you eat pasta? Or if you deliberately eat very slowly and chew thoroughly?
posted by WasabiFlux at 11:33 PM on February 13, 2012

Well, as an anecdotal data point different from what two lights says, I have a gluten intolerance and my most noticeable reactions were to pasta, with less reaction to lasagna, for whatever reason. Now, I was always in some sort of pain, and extremely fatigued, but eating pasta had an immediate reaction that other foods containing wheat didn't. I don't know why. I just know it was like that, to the point where I still gag just to think of wheat pasta. It stopped when I stopped eating foods that contain gluten, after being diagnosed (finally) with the intolerance. I'm absolutely fine with gluten-free pasta.

Bring it up with your doctor; if it's something else, hopefully they'll know/be able to ask the right questions.
posted by fraula at 12:05 AM on February 14, 2012

Thanks all for your advice. No, it doesn't happen each time I eat spaghetti. But often enough that I noticed a pattern. I never noticed it with any other food. The pain feels like a cramp, hard to describe but I can feel its location.

I might be swallowing too much air. When I'm not around people, I take gigantic bites (as much as my mouth can hold) and I'm known as being a fast eater. Someday, I will talk to a psychologist to understand why do I feel like I need to stuff my mouth as much as I can when I eat.
posted by kag at 4:20 AM on February 14, 2012

I forgot to mention that I sometimes have acid reflux and it's definately not the same feeling/pain as my "pasta pain". And acid reflux happens minutes after eating, not between the first and second bite.
posted by kag at 4:21 AM on February 14, 2012

I have had this feeling, usually with pasta but sometimes with other carbs (though usually not the first bite for me, since I have to shovel quite a bit in to make it happen). I think it's eating too much, too fast, and forming a lump or air bubble in your esophagus, but I'm just guessing on the mechanics. However, if I just take smaller bites and chew them more, it doesn't happen.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:50 AM on February 14, 2012

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