Pain in the Center of the Chest After Eating

You just finish eating your favorite meal and you develop intense pain in your chest 1. It may feel like you’re having a heart attack, but it is most likely the result of a digestive condition. Chest pain that develops in the middle of your chest after eating is most likely related to gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease or an ulcer 1. Your condition needs to be evaluated by your medical doctor to determine the cause of your pain. Do not attempt to treat your symptoms using over-the-counter medications, unless directed by a doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder disease occurs whenever there are complications with your gallbladder. Common complications include inflammation and the formation of gallstones. The gallbladder is a sac that is located by your liver and stores extra bile in the event that you ingest a large amount of fat. Bile helps the digestive system break down fat, allowing it to be absorbed into the body. If the pain in the center of your chest develops after eating fatty foods, you may have gallbladder disease 14. Other symptoms may include pain in the right side of your abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 4.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

More commonly known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disease that causes chronic heartburn. Occasional discomfort or a burning sensation is common after eating greasy foods or foods that are high in spices or after overeating. If you notice that you develop heartburn after every meal, you may have GERD. If you experience heartburn more than twice in one week, your doctor may run tests to diagnose your condition. GERD is commonly treated by making lifestyle changes to your diet, increasing liquid intake, and avoiding spicy and acid foods.


Ulcers that develop in your esophagus or stomach can cause pain in the center of your chest while you’re eating or shortly thereafter 1. An ulcer is an open wound that forms in the lining of your digestive tract, typically from a bacterial infection, notes 3. The protective lining of your digestive system erodes, exposing the soft tissue underneath. While eating, the food may aggravate and irritate the sores, increasing pain. Ulcers may be treated with triple therapy, which is a combination of two antibiotics and bismuth subsalicylate.

Gas Consideration

Gas pains can also cause pain to develop in the middle of your chest after eating 1. Gas develops when undigested carbohydrates enter the colon. Because the carbohydrates are indigestible, they ferment, releasing various gases that can build up in your digestive system, leading to pain.