What Causes Coughing After Eating?

Have you noticed yourself following an annoying pattern of coughing after eating? Since coughing is the body’s natural reflex to clear its airways of irritants, it probably means that an irritant was introduced into yours while you were eating.

Any frequent or habitual coughing that occurs warrants a visit to a doctor. It’s better to determine the cause right away so you can make some changes in your lifestyle or take the most effective cough medicine for whatever you have.

The Usual Suspects

If you find yourself always or frequently coughing after eating, one of the following might be what causes you to cough.

1.     Food Allergies

If you experience coughing and shortness of breath after eating, you might be allergic to something you ate. Food allergies can strike at any age, but onset is usually in childhood.

Having food allergies means that your body’s immune system perceives a harmful substance and is reacting against it.

Coughing is a pretty mild symptom. Food allergies can also cause you to be short of breath, wheeze, have a runny nose, and suffer anaphylaxis. An anaphylactic reaction is, of course, the most dangerous.

Observe yourself and see if your coughing occurs after consumption of the usual food allergens.

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish

2.     Asthma

If you’re asthmatic, you need to watch out for sulfites in food. Asthma attacks occur when your respiratory system is triggered by an irritant, and in food, sulfites are the usual culprit.

Sulfites are additives usually found in many foods and drinks. Some of them are:

  • Dried fruit
  • Pickled onions
  • Soda
  • Beers and wines

Asthma and allergies are closely related, although you don’t need to be asthmatic to suffer from allergies. An asthma attack doesn’t stop at coughing, of course. These food reactions can definitely lead to trouble in breathing, and it’s not necessarily anaphylaxis.

3.     Acid Reflux

Acid reflux pertains to the stomach acid that shoots up the food pipe. When eating, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes to allow food to go down to the stomach. Unfortunately in some cases, the sphincter does not fully close afterwards, allowing acid to travel upward. This leads to coughing.

There are conditions that bring about chronic acid reflux, such as the following:

  • GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease involves pretty severe acid reflux, often also causing wheezing, nausea, excessive stomach gas, and trouble swallowing.

  • LPR

Laryngopharyngeal reflux goes all the way up the nasal passages. Beside coughing and hoarseness, it can also cause post-nasal drip.

  • Dysphagia

This is a condition that makes swallowing difficult to do. It can be uncomfortable and downright painful. While acid reflux is a common cause, it’s not the only one. It’s best to consult a doctor if you suspect yourself of having this.

4.     Infections

A fungal, viral, or bacterial infection in the food pipe or larynx may cause your throat to be irritated and inflamed, which leads to coughing, particularly after meals. To address the cough, treat the infection.

5.     Aspiration Pneumonia

You may inhale particles of food or liquid when eating. If you’re healthy, your lungs can easily expel them. If you fail to get rid of them, bacteria may breed in your lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. Wet coughing after eating is one of its symptoms, along with pain in swallowing, shortness of breath, heartburn, congestion, extra saliva, and fever.

This could lead to serious medical problems like lung abscess or respiratory failure. See a doctor right away if your suspect yourself of having aspiration pneumonia.

Better Enjoyment of Food

You don’t want your meals associated with coughing. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as you observe yourself experiencing this issue. To avoid further suffering, a remedy should be implemented right away.

Sometimes treatment is the answer; other times, prevention is the solution. For allergies and asthma, it basically means avoiding trigger foods and drinks.

As with every other persistent or frequent coughing situation, it’s important to observe yourself so you can discern what your body is trying to tell you. In any case, you can give helpful information that your doctor will require during consultation.