Find answers to medical questions from experts about coping with spicy food and a big appetite.
Question: I enjoy spicy foods but every time I indulge, my nose runs and my stomach feels uncomfortable. What causes these reactions? Is there any way to prevent these discomforts?
Answer: Most spicy food contain naturally occurring chemicals known as capsaicin or allyl isothiocyanate. These chemicals are found in chillies, pepper, wasabi, mustard and many more spices. They not only cause a burning sensation on the tongue but also irritate the mucus membranes of the nose and eyes, as well as the stomach lining. As a result, you could have watery eyes, a runny nose and abdominal discomfort when eating spicy food.
Capsaicin is not water-soluble, so drinking water will not ease the burning sensation on your mucus membranes and stomach lining. There could be temporary relief in drinking cold water as this will overpower the effect of the capsaicin on the nerve receptors. But the relief is short-lived as the heat and the irritation return straight away.
Here are some preventive measures you can take:
Question: I’m a woman in my early 20s, and I can eat a full meal up to six times a day — without ever feeling really full. My mother thinks I have tapeworms in my stomach. I read up on them and it seems improbable that in this day and age, I can get tapeworms. Or is it a possibility? If my big appetite is not caused by anything untoward, is it okay to eat so much in a day?
Answer: Tapeworm infestation is quite rare in our society. The most common symptoms are diarrhoea, nausea with extreme hunger or loss of appetite. Some may experience loss of weight and abdominal pain. If you have any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor who can do a simple stool parasite test to identify any tapeworm infestation.
Caloric requirement also differs between individuals. For instance, an avid sportswoman or an active breastfeeding mother will have very different nutritional needs compared to a woman who spends most of her time at her desk. If you are in a healthy weight range and not gaining extra weight, it is likely that your daily caloric requirement is high. However, do remember to always adopt a balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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