What Are the Causes of Nausea After Eating Sweets?

By Barbara Stefano

Stomach aches after dessert might be chalked up to simple overindulgence. After all, it's difficult to put the brakes on a delicious chocolate truffle or rich ice cream sundae before polishing off the entire portion. While occasional stomach discomfort is not unusual, however, persistent nausea after consuming sweets may have serious causes.

Fruit gateaux
credit: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
Nausea from sweets can have many causes

Diabetes

An unwell young woman resting against a door
credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Nauseated and weak

Type 2 diabetes, or high blood sugar, can result in nausea after sweets and occurs when blood sugar rises to a dangerous level. In addition to nausea after eating sweets, individuals with high blood sugar may experience a host of other frightening symptoms, including extreme thirst, weakness, confusion, cramping in the legs and even convulsions. Left untreated, Type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening.

Artificial Sweeteners

Demand Outstrips Supply For Sugar Substitute Splenda
credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Splenda is a popular artificial sweetener

Artificial sweeteners can be a great tool for diabetics and other individuals who wish to cut back on their sugar consumption. Sweeteners contain fewer calories than sugar, or none at all, and may be used in moderation as an enjoyable addition to an overall healthy diet. However, artificial sweeteners known as sugar alcohols can sometimes cause nausea, cramping and diarrhea when consumed in excess. Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt are among the most popular sugar alcohols used by candy manufacturers.

Rapid Gastric Emptying

Restroom Sign
credit: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Bathroom signs

Rapid gastric emptying, or RGE, generally occurs immediately after a meal or within a few hours of eating, and is caused by food emptying into the small intestine too rapidly. Because the body digests simple carbohydrates more quickly than other foods, sweets are often the culprit in "dumping syndrome," another name for RGE. Individuals with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome or people who have undergone bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass are susceptible to RGE. Other symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue and dizziness.

Other Triggers

close-up of a woman drinking cola from a glass
credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Carbonation in soft drinks can cause bloating and nausea.

Often, the nausea that people experience after eating sweets is not directly caused by sugar, but by other factors that are present at the time. For example, nausea after consuming a sugary soft drink may be the result of bloating from the carbonation. In other instances, simple overeating may be to blame. Large amounts of fat that often accompany sweets, or even sensitivity to candy extracts, may also induce nausea. Pregnancy may even trigger nausea after sweets in individuals who previously enjoyed candy with no ill effects.

Considerations

Doctor Listening to Patient Talk About Her Medical Symptoms
credit: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Explaining symptoms to doctor

An occasional bout of nausea is not usually a cause for alarm and generally responds well to over-the-counter or home remedies. If, however, nausea recurs or persists for more than a few days and does not respond to treatment, seek a doctor's care. Individuals with other known medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease should consult a physician in the event of recurring nausea. Seek immediate medical assistance if nausea is accompanied by fever, pain, confusion, or excessive or bloody vomit.