The problem of cough after eating – why it develops, is it dangerous or not, how to treat

A cough can often indicate a health problem. It is an unconditioned reflex of the body to irritation of the nasopharyngeal receptors, in the form of a strong exhalation with a sharp muscle contraction.

This defensive response is necessary to clear the airway and make it easier for air to enter the lungs.

Cough is a normal response of the body to strong-smelling or toxic substances, foreign bodies entering the respiratory system, nasal congestion due to infectious diseases, allergies, stagnant processes in the lungs, bronchi and much more.

Sometimes, both adults and children can cough immediately after eating. Such a repetitive reflex cough, accompanied by painful sensations, causes discomfort in a person.

It can be eliminated only by correctly determining the causes of its occurrence, which are very diverse.

What is important to know about the nature of the cough

In order to more accurately determine the reason why a person coughs after eating, it is important to take into account the nature of the cough, it happens:

  • dry (no mucus secretion),
  • wet (with mucus),
  • followed by esophageal vomiting (from the stomach, part of the food with acid enters the esophagus).

Dry cough is often associated with the ingress of foreign bodies into the respiratory tract or organs (bronchi, lungs, trachea).

A productive (wet) cough is often the result of diseases of the respiratory system (from asthma to pneumonia and bronchitis) or the cardiovascular system. By the way, the cost of treating arrhythmias in Germany is not so high – see for yourself at

The third type, in most cases, is caused by diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, which cause irritation of the walls of the esophagus, burning sensation and discomfort, provoking instinctive coughing and vomiting.

The most common reasons

All causes of cough after eating can be conditionally grouped into the following groups:

  • associated with the process of eating;
  • caused by pathological conditions and diseases;
  • arising from the characteristics of infant feeding.

Directly associated with food intake aspiration (usually they say that a person “choked”) due to the ingestion of food particles into the respiratory tract.

The body reflexively resorts to coughing to eliminate obstacles to breathing, as well as to prevent foreign bodies from entering the bronchi and lungs.

The same group includes throat irritation with spices, acids (for example, acetic or citric) and a sharp drop in the temperature of the food taken.

The reason for the first type may be the lack of sufficient moisture in the mucous membrane. This happens if a person eats dry foods (bread, crackers) without drinking.

The second group includes a number of diseases (including chronic ones) and pathologies.

  1. Food allergy causes a cough after eating if the food contains an allergen (peanuts, shellfish, citrus fruits). With a strong reaction to the product, this can even happen from its smell.
  2. Asthma, which is often associated with allergic reactions, also causes coughs after eating. A suffocating coughing fit often becomes a reaction of the bronchi to strong odors or the presence of allergens in food.
  3. Infectious diseases affecting the mucous membrane of the respiratory system lead to its increased sensitivity. The patient coughs while eating and after eating, since in this state, both hot or spicy foods and dry or chilled foods can become irritants.
  4. Enterovirus and adenovirus infections can have symptoms of a cough after eating. Enteroviruses enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract and then spread through the blood into the trachea or bronchi, causing irritation and inflammation. Adenoviruses, on the other hand, can be in the body in a hidden form (from 7 to 12 days), manifesting themselves in the form of attacks of dry cough in the initial period and wet cough closer to 3-4 days.
  5. Gastritis (some forms of the disease) provokes an increased secretion of acid and its entry into the esophagus. The mucous membrane is irritated, the person feels a sore throat and coughs reflexively. In these cases, an attack of painful coughing with vomiting may occur.
  6. Pathology of GRED, the full name of which is gastroesophageal reflux disease. The muscular esophageal ring in the patient, instead of being compressed after eating, is relaxed and passes part of the food back into the esophagus along with the air from the stomach. In this case, coughing fits occur 5-10 minutes after eating.
  7. Helminths (parasites in the human body) can cause a cough due to the irritating effect on the mucous membranes of the larynx of the waste products of the larvae.
  8. The chronic form of dysbiosis causes consequences similar to those of gastritis and can cause dry cough after eating. In this case, the oral cavity is often exposed to fungal infection, which causes tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils).
  9. Dysphagia, or swallowing dysfunction, is more common in young children. The child reflexively clears his throat when a lump of food enters the respiratory tract.

The third group of causes of cough caused by the feeding habits of infants includes the following factors.

  • The wrong choice of the position of the baby’s body when eating (milk or mixture enters the nasopharynx).
  • Too much liquid, the child does not have time to swallow it.
  • In infants during the first months of life, cough occurs before belching. Air enters the child’s stomach when swallowing too hasty, respectively, the baby can cough when air comes out.

Emerging complications

Recurrent coughing after eating can signal the development of the disease. In any case, you should go to a doctor’s consultation, and not self-medicate.

After all, some of the reasons that cause this symptom have serious health consequences (infections, gastritis and gastrointestinal pathologies, helminthiasis).

Even if the cough was an isolated case, then it could be caused by aspiration (parts of the food entering the respiratory tract and further into the bronchi and lungs).

Aspiration in the worst case turns into aspiration pneumonia when the contents of the stomach, nasopharynx or oral cavity enter the lower respiratory tract. This disease can be fatal.

Other complications are not associated with a cough, but with diseases that provoke it.

Bronchial asthma, if untreated, can cause loss of consciousness during an attack of suffocation.

Allergy during an exacerbation is characterized by high fever and Quincke’s edema. If untreated, it develops into asthma.

Left unattended, gastritis becomes chronic and often causes gastric ulcer and pancreatitis.

Infectious diseases left without proper treatment can also lead to complications in the form of kidney, heart, joint diseases or damage to the nervous system (especially in children).

Helminthiasis causes the development of intestinal diseases, can lead to pancreatitis or obstructive jaundice, and promotes the formation of malignant tumors.

Prevention and prevention methods

There will be no complications if you take the necessary measures to eliminate the causes of the cough. In order not to cause a cough associated with the eating process, it is necessary to pay attention to the culture of food intake.


  • exclude eating lying down or “on the go”;
  • not talking or talking less at the table;
  • monitor the diet by removing excessively spicy and sour foods from it;
  • observe the drinking regime.

To prevent coughs associated with illness, you must regularly undergo medical examinations. In the presence of chronic diseases – follow the doctor’s instructions to prevent exacerbations and seizures.

Recurrent coughing fits after a meal should not be ignored in the hope that they will go away on their own. The correct reaction will be to see a doctor and undergo an examination in order to avoid the development of complications.

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