Feeling nauseous after eating

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Q I am a 15-year-old girl. Recently, I have been experiencing nausea after eating, as well as stomach bloating and pain, which can be relieved only by passing gas.

My stomach growls excessively. I get hungry quickly despite having eaten a full meal just two hours earlier.

My stool also floats and is yellow to light brown in colour, which I understand is abnormal.

My body mass index (BMI) has always been low and I tire easily. What could be the root of these problems?

A The symptoms that you describe are rather non-specific and do not really point to a single diagnosis.

Abdominal bloating, pain and flatulence (excessive gas in the intestines) are very common symptoms that many of us experience at some point in our lives.

Frequently, these may be related to irritable bowel syndrome. This is a common condition, especially among women, where the intestines do not have any medical issue or abnormal growth, but rather, the intestinal function is erratic or disordered.

Having said that, the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome should only be made if other conditions, such as intestinal tumours and inflammatory bowel disease, have been ruled out.

Thankfully, these conditions are uncommon in your age group and you should not be unduly worried.

Stool that tends to float may be related to the type of food ingested, such as food with high fat content. Having an impaired digestion of fat can often result in oily stool that floats.

The colour of one's stool is actually conferred by bile pigments that are by-products of the normal digestive process.

Normal stool colour may vary; from light yellowish brown to dark brown and even green. The colour may vary from person to person, depending on his diet as well as any medication that he may be taking orally. Therefore, having a stool colour of yellow to light brown could be completely normal, especially if that is what is usual for you.

A low BMI coupled with feeling hungry and tired frequently may simply reflect a high metabolic rate, particularly in an active teenage girl like yourself.

A significant unexplained loss of weight of 5kg or more over a short period of time would be more worrisome than a low BMI that has been constant for many years.

Of course, conditions such as hyperthyroidism (excessively high thyroid hormone levels) could also result in weight loss and an increased appetite. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include tremors, heat intolerance, excessive sweating and palpitations - a feeling that your heart is beating too hard or too fast.

Feeling tired easily could also be a symptom of anaemia or low red blood cell count.

In summary, it is hard to pinpoint an exact cause for your symptoms.

While they do not sound very serious, it would be wise to see your family doctor or a general practitioner so that you can be assessed properly. This may involve a full physical examination and blood tests or other investigations.

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