Coughing after eating is never a comfortable thing to experience but it can occasionally happen. However, if it happens on a regular basis and it has already started to upset you, then it might be for the best to seek out medical attention.
Why do we cough after eating?
The mechanism is simple. The throat or the airways are suddenly irritated and cough appears as the expelling mechanism. Sometimes, it might be a reflexive action, having as underlying condition nervous or digestive disorders. In many situations, coughing appears just after we have eaten ice cream or when we drink cold beverages. The cause is extremely important in this situation, as it can impose a certain course of treatment to follow. You have to understand that there are even certain types of foods that can irritate your throat, leading to coughing.
These are the most common possible causes incriminated in the appearance of coughing after eating:
- Food allergies – the list of foods that can irritate the throat and the airways is extremely long but common culprits are certain fruits (apples, peaches, citrus fruits and berries), vegetables (celery) and, of course, foods that are spicy, greasy or cold (ice cream). What happens is that the body does not like extremes and an immune response reaction will be triggered, with coughing appearing besides throat tightening and irritation
- Infection – coughing after eating and choking can appear in situations of esophagus or larynx infections
- Gastrointestinal reflux – coughing is accompanied by heartburn, indigestion and a bad mouth taste
- Dysphagia – having a hard time swallowing can increase the bouts of coughing
- Asthma – in case of asthma attacks, with inflamed airways, coughing appears after eating, being most often causes by irritating foods
- Aspiration pneumonia – this is a fatal condition, in which food is aspired into the lungs
First of all, the treatment depends very much on the reason why coughing appears after eating. These are the most common courses of treatment taken:
- Anti-bacterial medication – it can solve the infection found in the esophagus or larynx.
- Specific medication for GERD – anti-acids, H2 receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors.
- For asthma – broncho-dilators, inhalers, beta antagonists.
- In case of aspiration pneumonia – antibiotics to solve the infection in the lungs, alternative feeding methods in case of recurrent conditions.
- In case of dysphagia – occupational therapy to discover the best feeding technique.
Coughing after eating can be prevented if you follow the next recommendations:
- In case of allergies, avoid eating the foods that trigger the cough. Among the most common triggers, you will find any of the following: soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, other types of fish, wheat based products, cow milk.
- Eat your food without hurry, make sure that you chew it properly before swallowing and take your time before the next bite.
- Keep a healthy diet, based on fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods that give you acid reflux or heartburn. Spicy or greasy foods should not be found in your diet, as they can lead to triggering boughs of coughing and, of course, to indigestion.
- Use vaporizers in order to inhale steam. This will help you feel better, as the steam calms inflamed and irritated airways.
- Use a humidifier to moist the air in your room. Sometimes, when the air is too dry, coughing becomes even worse.
- Hydrate properly. Drink plenty of water in order to keep your throat moist and make sure that you will also drink warm liquids, including tea with lemon and honey.
- Get proper rest. Coughing after eating can be very distressing on the body. If you sleep and rest, then you will be able to recover more easily.
- Avoid smoking. This is perhaps one of the most obvious rules but it will be explained anyway. The moment you smoke, the protective lining of your throat is destroyed and the mucus is moved out of the lungs, up into the airways and throat. This will cause boughs of coughing, without any doubt.
As you have seen for yourself, in order to escape coughing after eating, you have to address the underlying condition and make sure that is treated first. However, you should not fail to see the importance of prevention methods for this condition. Changing some of your habits might guarantee that you are healthy and fit, thus being protected against a wide range of medical problems, not just coughing after eating. As always, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and quitting nasty habits such as smoking can make all the difference in the world. You just have to apply yourself and start making those important changes as of today.