A satisfying feeling of fullness often occurs after finishing a big meal. But if that feeling becomes physically uncomfortable and lasts longer after eating than it should, you may have what many people call “stomach heaviness.”

The symptoms of stomach heaviness vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for more than a few days, make an appointment to see your doctor. They can diagnose the underlying cause.

Go to the emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms:

The cause of heaviness in your stomach is often a reflection of your eating habits, such as:

  • eating too much
  • eating too quickly
  • eating too often
  • eating greasy or heavily seasoned foods
  • eating foods that are difficult to digest

Sometimes the feeling of stomach heaviness is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as:

Treatment options for stomach heaviness are based on the diagnosis of what’s specifically causing it.

The first step your doctor might recommend is changing particular aspects of your lifestyle. This may include the following:

  • Avoid or limit foods that are fatty, highly seasoned, and difficult to digest.
  • Change your eating habits. Eat slower, and eat smaller meals.
  • Increase how often you exercise.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol.
  • Manage any anxiety and stress.

The next step your doctor might suggest is taking over-the-counter medications. These may include:

  • Antacids: Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta
  • Oral suspension medications: Pepto-Bismol, Carafate
  • Anti-gas and anti-flatulence products: Phazyme, Gas-X, Beano
  • H2 receptor blockers: Cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR), or ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Proton pump inhibitors: Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC)

Stronger treatments might be called for depending on your diagnosis. Your doctor might prescribe more powerful medications if your stomach heaviness is a symptom of a more serious condition.

As an example, for GERD, your doctor might suggest prescription-strength H2 receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors. They might also suggest medication such as baclofen to strengthen your lower esophageal sphincter. Your doctor might also suggest surgery, such as fundoplication or the installation of a LINX device.

Some natural alternatives may relieve stomach heaviness. They include:

As with any home remedy, check in with your doctor by trying it. They can ensure it won’t interfere with any medications you’re currently taking or aggravate any other medical conditions you may have.

The feeling of heaviness in your stomach could just be the result of lifestyle choices that can easily be addressed with a change in behavior. It might, however, be a symptom of an underlying condition.

If the heaviness in your stomach persists, call your doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment plan for relief.