Surprising Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Spicy Food

If you're one of the majority of Americans who douse their food with hot sauce at every meal, you may want to read this. Whether you enjoy pushing your tastebuds to the limit for thrill, challenge or just because you love the taste, there are some unexpected side effects of spicy food you should be aware of.

Arguably the most common side effect to spicy food deals with your digestion. Heartburn or acid reflux occurs when your stomach acid goes back up into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation in your chest. This acidity can be triggered by spicy foods containing capsaicin, which also slows down your digestion rate and increases your risk of heartburn developing (via Insider).

As acid moves up your esophagus, you may also notice some bad breath as a side effect. The throat irritation potentially can cause your vocal cords to become inflamed, leaving you with a sore throat and a hoarse voice. 

Another digestive issue spicy food can cause is stomach or intestine irritation, causing a laxative effect. Acute gastritis is also a possibility, with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and fullness in your upper abdomen. This comes on fast and furious, but is typically temporary.

Are there benefits to spicy food?

Spicy food doesn't just affect your stomach or digestion. You may notice some visible effects when enjoying a particularly spicy meal. Profuse sweating can occur as your body tries to cool itself down. This sweating produces oil in your skin, potentially flaring up any existing skin conditions like eczema or acne breakouts, according to Insider.

But before you ditch the hot peppers for good, there are some positive benefits to spicy foods. That capsaicin mentioned earlier? It can be a metabolism-booster, allowing your body to burn more calories and promote weight loss (via Penn Medicine). Additional health benefits of red chili peppers in particular are lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol.

All in all, spicy food is a personal preference and can be fine for most people in moderation — so long as you're still making healthy food choices with your spice. If you are experiencing any of these side effects while enjoying spicy food, it may be wise to consult with your healthcare provider on any possible long-term effects — or just take a breather from the hot sauce while your body recovers.