Coughing after eating may simply mean food is stuck in your throat. But in some instances, ta wet and chronic cough after eating things like ice cream or sugary things can mean an underlying problem. It is advised that you see a doctor if you cough blood after eating, or are simply gagging as you cough.
Coughing typically indicates that something is wrong in your body. It could be caused by the presence of a foreign object, or the incorrect functioning of one of the numerous organs that are found in your chest area. You will find that there exist different reasons why a person may cough after drinking or eating. When food particles get stuck in your respiratory tract, you are going to experience difficulty swallowing and breathing.
As a result, you will find that most people tend to choke and start to cough immediately after eating. Even though this cough could be nothing more than a slight disturbance, if the cough becomes persistent, and starts to worsen with time, you may need to seek medical attention. In this article, we are going to look at the causes of coughing after eating things like sugar, ice cream etc. and mucus that causes an itchy throat. Also see remedies and treatments at the end.
Meaning of coughing after eating
The higher part of the human respiratory and digestive systems both progress through the throat, and as a result, they share similar nerve pathways. Therefore, eating can directly or indirectly fuel coughing after ingesting food. Some of the most possible causes for this condition include:
- Food allergies
- Acid reflux
- Swallowing disorders
The duration and timing of the cough, as well as the associated symptoms can assist a physician in distinguishing the most possible culprits behind the condition. If you find that you are consistently coughing after you have eaten, then you should consider consulting your physician so as to determine what is causing this condition in order to determine the right course of treatment.
Causes of coughing after eating
The following are some of the main causes of cough after eating or drinking.
Medically speaking, asthma is a chronic lung disease, which often comes about when the airways are inflamed. For an asthmatic person, consuming certain foods may lead to them experiencing symptoms that are exaggerated e.g. coughing. According to the U. S Department of Health, foods that are known to trigger asthma include:
- Shell fish
- Tree nuts
The condition often comes about when stomach substances, liquids, or food accidentally find their way into your lungs and as a result cause an infection. Normally, when these substances enter your airway, the resulting cough helps prevent them from entering your lungs.
But, in some cases, you will find that there are exceptions. This is where you find an infection occurring and as a result mucus starts to accumulate resulting in the affected person getting pneumonia. See also the causes of coughing up green mucus and phlegm.
Swallowing difficulties are considered to be the primary causes of post eating coughing. It can be caused by a number of factors such as:
- Neurological and muscular complications
- Throat inflammation
The condition is often characterized by the feeling of food being stuck in your throat, pain or pressure in your chest after eating, which is then accompanied by coughing that is exaggerated. There are two main types of dysphagia. They include:
In this condition, coughing can occur either when a person is eating, or immediately after they have finished their food. For it to occur, it means that the muscles located in the throat must have become weak. In the rare occasion that the condition becomes severe, the affected individuals will most certainly experience regurgitation and gagging. E.g. cancer, neurological disorder or damage
It is the most common type of dysphagia. Normally, it is caused by regurgitation because of absent or feeble peristalsis force action. As a result, you will most likely experience coughing or gagging while you are eating or after you have finished your food.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Also known as acid reflux disease, it comes about when there is a problem with mechanism as well as the functioning of the lower part of your esophageal sphincter. Commonly abbreviated as GERD, its primary symptoms include heartburn and indigestion.
Once you have ingested food, your esophageal sphincter becomes unable to hold down the food that has been ingested together with the digestive juices and acids present in your stomach.
Therefore, you will find that some of the stomach contents will be forcefully pushed back into your esophagus and this will result in heartburn as well as coughing. The irritation could be the cause of the cough after eating. Additionally, the stomach acid that has regurgitated will start traveling back up your pharynx, and may in the process cause irritation, which will then trigger this particular cough reflux.
This condition is primarily seen among the elderly people. In most cases, you will find that it affects the elderly males more than their female counterparts. Zenker’s Diverticula refers to pouches that are formed above your esophageal sphincter (food passage). As such, when you are eating, food may enter this pouch and end up being trapped.
Pharyngitis and tonsillitis
In this condition, coughing is often caused by the inflamed throat being irritated on a continuous basis by the food particles. Tonsillitis and pharyngitis are primarily caused by respiratory tract infections, more so in the upper tract. The primary symptoms for this condition include:
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
It can also be caused by non-infectious factors such as chronic necrotic tonsillitis, which may in the process trigger severe coughing. For this particular case, you will find that the food particles trapped in your crevasses will cough up the decomposed or compressed food particles. These particles often resemble small rice grains.
See also: How to get rid of tonsil stones
Food allergies are the main trigger for respiratory tract infection. Often this results in the secretion of mucus in abundant amounts because of the ingestion of certain food items such as nuts, egg yolk, wheat, and dairy products.
- You may find evidence of nasal congestion, rhinitis, post nasal drip in your nasal cavity as well as sneezing.
- For asthmatic cases where there is emission and buildup of mucus along the airway, you are likely going to see abnormal breathing sounds like wheezing, dyspnea, and hypersensitivity.
- Anaphylaxis when looked at the context of particular food items such as shellfish could cause reactions that are life-threatening. Coughing may be one of the symptoms that are noticed at first.
Coughing and gagging after eating
This type of coughing is normally caused by gastric or food contents finding their way into the aspiration (lung). You will find that there exist different explanations for this particular problem, with the highest likelihood being based on age, as well as presence of underlying medical conditions. If these symptoms become worse when you bend over, it could mean that a person is suffering from esophageal reflux. This may necessitate making a visit to a gastroenterologist to help determine the primary cause of these symptoms.
Coughing mucus after eating
Various factors may lead to an individual experiencing mucus in the throat after eating. Some of the factors behind this condition include:
- Post-nasal drip
- Heavy smoking
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Side effects of medication
- Food allergies
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux
- Chronic rhinitis
For you to reduce the accumulation of mucus in your throat after eating, you will need to increase your intake of fluids. This will assist in loosening up your mucus. As such, you need to try and inhale steam, stay away from foods that you may be allergic to, consume herbal tea after each meal, gargle lukewarm water combined with salt, and either cutback or stop smoking altogether.
RELATED: Why do I cough yellow mucus?
Chronic cough after eating ice cream
Having a chronic cough after ingesting ice cream is often seen as a response to the cold. Ice creams are generally cold, which means that this cold could activate the hypersensitive cough receptors that are found in some people. There are individuals who also cough reflexively anytime that they step into the cold winter after stepping out from their cars or from their homes.
When you start to cough after consuming ice-cream, it could mean that there are a number of factors behind it. For instance, when your throat is irritated, it will often result in you coughing. For you to understand why this is happening, you will need to determine which irritant is causing this problem. Drinking cold liquids or eating ice cream have been known to trigger cough actions that are reflexive.
Some of the items known to trigger coughing after eating ice cream include:
- Dairy products
- Cold temperatures
Wet and dry cough after eating sugar
Even though the sudden and explosive air release is the primary reaction that is associated with coughing, many people do not know that this happens to be the last stage in an exhaustive process, which starts with inhalation, and one that also involves forced exhalation as well as closing of the glottis.
Both wet and dry coughs are normally caused by infections of the respiratory tract system, although they can also be caused by underlying disease, respiratory conditions, as well as use of certain drugs. Dry coughs often manifest themselves as violent, raspy, and racking. Prior to starting a bout of this kind of cough, an individual will often experience a tickling sensation in his or her throat. A dry cough is likely to happen when your upper highway is inflamed, and unable to produce any mucus.
Dry coughs can be caused by a number of factors, which include:
- Sore throat and asthma
- Cooling and heating systems
- Cooking, smoking, and chemical fumes
- Pollution and particulate dust
- Flu, sinus infection, and common colds
- Anti-hypersensitive drugs e.g. ACE inhibitors and beta blockers
Baby coughing after eating
Infants cough for many varied reasons. When your infant starts coughing when they are being fed, it could mean that they are suffering from GER (gastroesophageal reflux). GER comes about when the baby’s stomach contents start backing up into the esophagus when the baby is being fed, or immediately after feeding.
According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, this condition is quite common even in healthy babies. It is recommended that you consult your pediatrician if the cough becomes persistent, or interferes with the baby’s sleeping and eating patterns. You should understand that only a pediatrician will be able to diagnose the primary reason behind the baby’s cough.
GER symptoms include:
- Coughing once the stomach contents become regurgitated in the esophagus
- It could cause the infant to spit up. This may lead to the infant becoming irritable when being fed, and even after feeding has been completed
As a parent, it is important to understand that GER does not in any way interfere with the growth and development of your child. According to Mayo Clinic, the condition does not cause any extreme distress as well. However, a more serious underlying condition could be at play if:
- The baby is not gaining any weight
- Baby starts to forcefully spit up
- Your infant is experiencing projectile liquids
- A child has a fever
- Spitting and coughing
Coughing up blood after eating
According to HealthSite.com, the primary cause of coughing up blood after eating is an infection. Infections account for between sixty and seventy percent of all such cases. An infection can be brought about by invasive bacteria e.g. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus. Additionally, hemoptysis (coughing up blood) can also be caused by viruses e.g. influenza, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and this may lead to a number of conditions, all of which would then result in hemoptysis.
Another condition that can cause coughing up blood is bronchiectasis. The condition takes place when there is a recurrent inflammation of your lungs, where your airways get enlarged, leading to the buildup of excess mucus in your airways. Some of its symptoms include:
- Foul breath odor
- Bluish tinge to your skin
- Shortens of breath, which starts to worsen when you engage in any activities
- Paleness, fatigue, and wheezing
Prevention measures and home remedies for coughing after eating
You can prevent coughing after ingestion by following the next set of recommendations. They include:
- If you have allergies, you will need to make sure that you do not eat foods that may trigger this cough. Common triggers include: tree nuts, eggs, soy, peanuts, cow milk, shellfish, and wheat based products
- When eating, ensure you do not eat it in a rush. It is important to properly chew all the food items before you can swallow. Allow enough time to pass before you can take the next bite
- Maintain a well-balanced diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits. You will also need to avoid all foods that can lead to heartburns or acid reflux. Greasy and spicy foods should not be a part of your daily diet. This is because they could trigger coughing bouts as well as lead to indigestion
- To inhale steam, you will need to use vaporizers. The steam will enable you to feel much better as it will assist in calming the airways that are irritated and inflamed
- A humidifier will come in handy as well. You can use it to moist the air that is present in your house. When the available air happens to be too dry, your coughing is likely to worsen.
- Make sure you are properly hydrated. For this, it will be imperative for you to consume lots of water. The water will assist in ensuring that the throat remains moist at all times. Additionally, ensure you drink warm liquids on a regular basis e.g. honey and lemon tea
- Get enough rest. Generally, coughing after eating has the potential to distress your body a lot. Resting and sleeping provides your body with enough time to recover
- Stop smoking or cut back on your smoking habit. Cutting back or avoiding smoking is the most obvious rule. When you smoke, your throat protective lining gets destroyed, which means that the mucus present in your throat will start to move out from your lungs, up into your throat and your airways. As a result, this will end up causing serious coughing bouts.
To make treatment easier, the first thing you need to do is to determine what is causing the coughing bouts. Once identified, it becomes easier to come up with a viable treatment plan, which will ensure that you get rid of the coughing bouts once and for all.
- If it has been caused by allergies, you need to ensure that your surroundings are free from all kinds of allergens. You need to stay away from air pollutants and dust, as well as pollen, which is found in flowers. Once this coughing has started to cease, ensure you take anti-allergen medication.
- When the infection is the primary cause, your doctor will most likely recommend that you take some antibiotics
- Over the counter medicine will come in handy in treating symptoms that have been caused by acid reflux and post-nasal drips
- If you realize that smoking is the main cause of this condition, you will need to stop smoking for coughing to case
- For cases that have been caused by ailments such as pneumonia and asthma, hospitalization may be required for you to be monitored as well as receive the right kind of treatment. For asthmatic patients, you will find that their medication is grouped into preventers, symptom controllers, and relievers.
- Consider taking a single teaspoon of honey that has been combined with a few drops of lemon juice.
The remedies and prevention methods discussed above will help ensure that you get rid of this problem of coughing after you have eater some food. If the condition worsens or comes back after sometime, ensure you consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis.