Why Do You Cough After Eating?

image001Do you ever cough after eating? Coughing is usually caused by sudden irritation in the throat or air passages, or it might be a reflexive action that results from a nervous disorder or gastric problems. Sometimes eating ice cream or drinking cold products might trigger a bout of coughing. But if it happens quite often, there might be other reasons that you cough after eating. Figuring out the cause can help you figure out how to combat the problem.

Causes of Coughing after Eating

There could be many reasons why you cough after eating. Here are a few of the most common reasons why you might suffer from this problem.

1. Allergies

If you are allergic to certain foods, you might suffer from several symptoms after you eat them, including coughing. This is especially pronounced with spicy or greasy foods, or very cold products, like ice cream. This could be because your body is not accustomed to these extremes, and has an immune response that tries to expel that food – thus, the cough after eating.

2. Infections

If you are suffering from any infection that is related to the esophagus or larynx, you can face many problems, including coughing after eating. In fact, you might suffer from worse problems, such as choking when you eat. Infections can mean that the problem persists no matter what you eat.


Otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD can cause problems after eating, including heartburn and coughing. This happens because partially digested food is escaping the stomach and moving up to the esophagus. In addition to coughing, GERD can lead to indigestion and a sour taste in the mouth. Fortunately, there are many remedies for acid reflux, which are detailed in this video:

4. Dysphagia

If you have dyphagia, it might be hard to swallow, no matter what you are eating. This can lead to food and drink getting caught in the throat or entering the lungs in very small quantities. Of course, when something foreign enters the lungs, the body will trigger a violent cough in an effort to expel it. This small irritation can turn into a big coughing fit after eating.

5. Asthma

If you suffer from asthma, that means that your airways can be inflamed when you are having an attack. Those who have this chronic infection might suffer a cough after eating, especially if they choose certain foods or those that have irritating additives. For more information on asthma and remedies for it, this video can help:

6. Aspiration Pneumonia

If you breathe in foreign matter into your lungs, that can lead to aspiration pneumonia. This is caused by vomit, liquids, bodily fluids from the mouth or food that enters into your lungs. Coughing is definitely caused by this, but if you get too much aspiration, the situation could quickly turn fatal.

Treatment for Coughing after Eating

Fortunately, there are many potential treatments for cough after eating. The treatment depends on the reason for the coughing, so pay close attention to what precedes the cough. For instance, is it more common after you eat spicy foods? Greasy foods? Does it seem to be related to something else?

If you suffer from a cough after eating that occurs only occasionally, there is likely no treatment necessary. But if the cough keeps coming and becomes a bothersome issue, these remedies might be able to help you feel more comfortable when you eat.

  • Eat Slowly.Remember to chew your food thoroughly and slowly, then swallow it slowly before you move on to the next bite. Eating quickly can often lead to coughing and even choking.
  • Avoid Particular Food. If it seems you have an allergy to a particular food, or a certain food irritates other conditions – such as asthma – avoid those foods at each meal. Another example is some one with a lactose allergy avoiding dairy products. Remember that eating these even once could lead to serious bouts of cough after eating.
  • Stick Healthy Diet. Stick to a very healthy diet, especially one that doesn’t trigger acid reflux or heartburn. This might mean avoiding spicy or greasy foods, or steering clear of those things that give you indigestion.
  • Warm Your Breath. If your cough is severe, get into a warm shower and stand in the steam – breathing it in could help ease the cough. You can also inhale steam through a vaporizer to help soothe the inflamed and irritated airways.
  • Keep the Throat Moist. Sometimes a cough is caused by a dry throat after eating. To avoid this, sip water or warm tea to keep the throat moist, and thus perhaps lessen the severity of the cough. Some find that hot tea with lemon or honey is even more soothing – but always keep in mind to never drink something you might have an allergy to.

When to See a Doctor

The occasional cough happens to everyone, and is likely nothing at all. But a cough after eating that happens quite often, or coughing that continues for a long time, is not necessarily normal. Coughing means that there is a bit of foreign matter in your body where it should not be, and your body is trying to expel it as efficiently and quickly as possible. That’s why serious coughing should always be mentioned to your doctor.

Your doctor might request several tests, including a specialized x-ray study. This ‘barium swallow’ will help your doctor see what is going on in your body as you drink something, and that can help diagnose problems like dysphagia. There are also tests for GERD that might pinpoint the coughing problem. Some medications might clear up the problem quickly, or you might need to undergo further tests to figure things out. Your doctor might also suggest lifestyle changes, such as cutting out certain foods, in order to keep the coughing under control.