3 Common Causes Of Coughing After Eating

If you suffer from coughing after eating a meal then you understand how annoying this condition can be. People who suffer from this on a recurring or chronic basis may even find it difficult to dine in a public restaurant, to enjoy snacks at a movie theater, or to have friends over for a meal because of how embarrassing it can be to succumb to a coughing fit. If you find yourself coughing after eating then you are probably curious as to how this condition got started and why it occasionally (or even persistently) returns to torment you. Keep reading to learn about three of the most common causes for this unusual condition.

Acid Reflux or GERD

Acid reflux is one of the most common causes of coughing after eating. It happens when the sphincter at the top opening of the stomach relaxes after food has been consumed. Normally the sphincter would only open to allow food into the stomach, but with acid reflux this band of muscle relaxes to allow pieces of food and stomach acid up out of the stomach and into the esophagus. The results of stomach acid sluicing over the sensitive tissues of the esophagus are pain and discomfort in the chest and throat. This may also be felt as a burning sensation near the splitting of the ribcage; a condition also known as heartburn.

When the acid comes into contact with the esophagus tissue, it lacks the protective barrier that the stomach is equipped with. Sometimes the body will produce excess mucous to help lubricate and protect these tissues which can generate the feeling that you need to cough up phlegm. The impulse to cough may also be caused simply by the pain and discomfort. You might even find yourself coughing up bits of foul-tasting acid in the back of your throat.

GERD, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, is a condition in which a person suffers from acid reflux on a regular basis. People most likely to end up with this condition are individuals who are overweight, eat a diet high in fatty or spicy foods, consume large quantities of caffeine on a regular basis, or who have high-stress lifestyles or jobs. A few examples of foods that can cause acid reflux and irritate GERD are fat-laden foods, fried foods, spices, chocolate, caffeine, sugary foods, and dairy products. Over the counter antacids, like Rolaids, Tums, or Maalox can be very effective at neutralizing stomach acid and instantly alleviating symptoms, including coughing after eating.

Food Allergy

Coughing after eating may also be a sign that you have developed a food allergy, or perhaps uncovered one that you didn’t realize you had. Some of the primary symptoms of a food allergy include coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, a ticklish feeling in the throat, upset stomach, diarrhea, and headaches after eating food that contains the allergen. In some individuals, it can take as much as 48 hours for an allergy reaction to make itself known, which is why it can sometimes be difficult pin-pointing exactly what food or protein a person is allergic to.

Some people are born with food allergies but they can also develop at any time during a person’s life. For adults, especially, a food allergy may have been present for years but they didn’t realize that the symptoms they were experiencing were actually the result of a food allergy. The best thing that you can do if you suspect that you have a food allergy is to use a process of elimination to determine what food you are allergic to, and then simply avoid this food in the future.


Asthma is a condition characterized by inflammation of the airways in the lungs. It is a condition that is usually diagnosed in childhood but can be diagnosed at any time during a person’s life. The fit that can be trigged by asthma, also known as an asthma attack, can include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, gasping, and even a feeling of tightness in the chest. For asthma suffers, the symptoms are usually chronic but can be triggered by certain things. Cigarette smoke, dramatic changes in air temperature, and even foods can trigger an asthma attack. When it comes to coughing after eating, an asthmatic may find the following foods to be the culprit behind a coughing fit: wheat, fatty or greasy foods, pickled items or vinegar, nuts, eggs, and milk.

For a persistent cough, an asthma inhaler can work wonders to relieve the symptoms of asthma within a few short minutes after they start. If you think that you may have undiagnosed asthma then you should speak to your doctor about your symptoms and your concerns and inquire about possibly being tested for asthma.