Why Do I Cough After I Eat? Can I Stop It?

Everyone loves sinking their teeth into delicious meals, but sometimes the bliss is short-lived. Coughing after eating is a problem many of us face. This cough might occur sometimes or after every meal. Usually, coughing indicates an underlying medical condition. So, what makes you cough after you eat? We have mentioned five culprits in this blog.

What Causes Coughing After Eating?

When an irritant enters our body, coughing helps clear it away from the airway. Hence, you will cough if your body senses something in the airway that should not be there, like phlegm or a food particle. However, you should not take frequently coughing post-meals lightly. Some common causes for coughing after you eat are:

  1. Food Allergies: Certain foods can trigger coughing or gagging after you eat them due to food allergies. They usually develop in childhood but can strike later in life as well. Moreover, you can also develop an allergy to a food you were not previously allergic to. Typically, you will experience an allergic response within two hours of eating.Allergy symptoms are different for everyone, and some people end up coughing. Wheezing and shortness of breath are also symptoms of this condition. Although it is rare, food allergies can also lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
  2. Dysphagia: Some people have difficulty swallowing, also known as dysphagia. In this condition, our body requires more effort and time to move food or drink from the mouth to the stomach. Moreover, there is a lingering sensation that the food is stuck in your throat. Consequently, you will experience painful swallowing, gagging, and coughing after eating.
  3. Acid Reflux, GERD, or LPR: Coughing can result from acid reflux, which occurs when the stomach acid travels up the food pipe.If you experience the symptoms of acid reflux frequently, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can cause chronic coughing after eating.

    Another related condition is laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), also called silent reflux. LPR does not have the usual GERD symptoms. In addition, it causes the stomach acid to pass into your larynx and, sometimes, your nose.

  4. Asthma: Asthma affects a person’s lungs. It is a chronic condition that can cause wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Some triggers can prompt an asthma attack. These include the sulfites in beer, wine, dried fruits, and soft drinks.
  5. Infections: An infection in the upper respiratory system can cause a cough. If the cough is not cleared properly, it can lead to coughing soon after eating or drinking. Viruses, fungi, or bacteria can infect the food pipe or larynx, causing inflammation in the throat. Thus, the inflammation results in a cough.

Prevention Tips

The treatment depends on the cause. In most cases, avoiding food triggers works. You can also take medications to treat the condition. To prevent post-eating cough, you can:

  • Eat slowly
  • Increase water intake during meals
  • Keep an eye out for food that triggers coughing
  • Take all your medications
  • Stop eating when you have a coughing attack
  • Take supplements to help with digestion (with your doctor’s consultation)
  • Use a humidifier to avoid a dry throat

What to Do?

Coughing after eating is a symptom of multiple conditions. Therefore, keep an eye out for any food that triggers the coughing. Inform your doctor about the condition and any related symptoms if it happens frequently.

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