Coughing After Eating: The Causes and Symptoms You Need to Know

Coughing after eating is the involuntary act of coughing due to eating or drinking certain foods or beverages. The act of coughing after eating can be caused by factors such as food allergies, dietary changes, and digestive issues. It might also be an adverse drug interaction. Food or drink items that may trigger coughing include those containing caffeine, alcohol, dairy products, spicy seasonings, and other hot spices. Additionally, acid reflux disease can lead to frequent bouts of coughing after eating due to stomach acids backing up into the throat due to a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter muscle ring around it. Continue reading to learn more about how to discover your triggers, why it occurs and what you can do.

Why am I coughing after eating?

Excessive Phlegm Production

Excessive phlegm production is the buildup of excessive amounts of mucus in the airways, which can lead to coughing after eating.

This is caused by certain types of food, such as dairy products, as they can increase the production of phlegm and increase the likelihood of coughing after eating them.

The increased production of phlegm from eating certain foods can cause a person to cough after their meal due to it blocking their airways. Eating foods that are known to cause excessive phlegm production may help reduce this effect by avoiding these ingredients altogether.


When something accidentally enters your airway or lungs, it’s called aspiration. It could be food, liquid, or another substance. Because a foreign object enters the lungs during aspiration, this condition can result in major health issues like pneumonia.

Install CareClinic App

Stroke is a common cause of dysphagia, which can lead to aspiration due to impaired swallowing ability. Dysphagia can also result from other health problems such as a stroke, resulting in coughing due to the presence of foreign material in the lungs.


The medical word for difficulty swallowing is dysphagia. It can cause problems with swallowing certain foods or liquids or make it impossible to swallow at all.

Bringing food back up via the nose, feeling like food is trapped in the throat or chest, prolonged dribbling of saliva, and having trouble chewing food properly are further symptoms of dysphagia.

Try the CareClinic app

Dysphagia can lead to weight loss over time as well as repeated chest infections due to bacteria build up in the mouth from lack of proper chewing and swallowing ability.

Coughing fits may occur due to food getting caught in the throat or lungs when eating without adequate coordination between mouth movements and breathing techniques needed for digestion.

What triggers a coughing fit after eating?

  1. Food Allergies

A food or ingredient in a portion of food causes the body’s immune system to overreact, leading to a protective response.

This may result in a number of symptoms, such as nausea and cramping in the stomach, rashes, shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent coughing, shock, or circulatory collapse. In rare cases, it can even lead to anaphylaxis which affects breathing.

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and acid regurgitation. It is caused by the failure of the lower esophagus to close properly when food enters the stomach, allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the throat and mouth.

GERD can lead to coughing after eating because it causes irritation in the throat, which may make it difficult for someone to swallow or even cause them to feel as if food is stuck in their throat. Additionally, GERD may also cause hoarseness due to constant exposure to acid in the throat area.

  1. Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a condition where stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, which connects the throat to the stomach. Acid reflux is caused by the lower esophagus failing to close properly when food enters the stomach, resulting in heartburn and acid regurgitation.

Heartburn is usually experienced before acid regurgitation but some people do not experience it at all. Symptoms may include chest pain, nausea, issues swallowing, hoarseness, and coughing after eating.

The NIDDK explains that this condition happens when contents in your stomach move up into your esophagus due to a bad position after eating such as laying down or bending over to clean crumbs off the floor. This causes irritation which can lead to coughing after eating due to increased gastric pressure in your throat area.

  1. Allergies

Food allergies, which occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a food or component in food, can be the cause of coughing after eating. This may result in a number of symptoms, such as nausea and cramping in the stomach, rashes, shortness of breath, wheezing, dry coughing, shock, or circulatory collapse.

Spasms may cause the coughing itself in the esophagus due to an allergic reaction. People may also experience wheezing or shortness of breath along with a runny nose due to the allergy.

Anaphylaxis is an emergency condition that requires immediate treatment to prevent further complications such as shock or respiratory failure.

  1. Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that impacts the airways in your lungs. When you have asthma, those airways can become inflamed and narrowed in response to a trigger, making it hard for air to flow out of your lungs when you breathe out. This can lead to symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.

Food is not usually considered a common asthma trigger but some people may notice that certain foods high in sulfites (a type of preservative) can activate their asthma symptoms. These include dried fruits and vegetables, packaged potatoes, wine, beer bottled lime juice shrimp pickled foods, etc.

The effect of eating these foods is that it can cause an immediate activation of the person’s asthma symptoms which may lead to increased coughing after eating meals due to the inflammation caused by these ingredients in food items.

6. Voice Sensitivity

Voice sensitivity is the sensation of pain, discomfort, or burning in the throat. It is a common symptom of dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. It can occur when food gets stuck in the esophagus or liquids leak into the mouth while eating.

Symptoms such as coughing after eating are caused by aspiration of food into the lungs which causes irritation and inflammation of the airways leading to coughing fits.

Throat sensitivity should be taken seriously as it can lead to more serious complications such as pneumonia if left untreated. If your child has symptoms of dysphagia such as arching during feeding or gagging during feeding then they must see a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

  1. LPR (Laryngeal Paroxysmal Reflex)

LPR, also known as silent reflux, is a type of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that involves stomach acid passing through the esophagus and into the larynx or nose. It can also cause postnasal drip, which is the sensation of something dripping down the back of your throat from your nose.

The coughing caused by LPR is due to irritation from the acid in the esophagus. The longer it remains there without treatment, the more likely it is for voice disorders or throat ulcers to develop. Medications and home treatments can help manage symptoms such as coughing after eating.

  1. Chest and Lung Problems

Aspiration pneumonia can develop after accidentally inhaling something, such as a small piece of food. This irritates the lungs or damages them.

The symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include a cough – which may be dry or produce phlegm that’s yellow, green, brown, or bloodstained – a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or over and chest pain. Difficulty breathing may also be experienced with rapid and shallow breathing even at rest.

 What signs might someone cough after eating?

  1. Chronic Cough

If you or your child has a chronic cough after eating, you should call your healthcare provider for specific advice. In general, the symptoms of a chronic cough after eating include:

  • Wheezing (noise when you breathe out).
  • Fever over 101.5 Fahrenheit or fever that lasts more than a day or two.
  • Feels cold.
  • Phlegm (a type of thick mucus also known as sputum), particularly if it is yellow, green, or bloody.
  • Feeling like you’re choking or unable to breathe well.
  • Seeing a lot of blood when coughing.
  1. Throat irritability or sensation

The symptoms of irritation or sensation in the throat after eating can include the feeling that food is sticking in your throat or coming back into your mouth; pain when swallowing; trouble starting a swallow; coughing or wheezing after eating; coughing while drinking liquids or eating solids; chest discomfort or heartburn; fever 30 minutes to an hour after eating; too much saliva; feeling congested after eating or drinking; having a wet-sounding voice during or after eating or drinking; shortness of breath fatigue while eating; repeated episodes of pneumonia.

  1. Trouble Swallowing

The symptoms of difficulty swallowing after eating include coughing or choking when eating or drinking, bringing food back up through the nose, a sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest, persistent drooling of saliva, being unable to chew food properly and a gurgly wet-sounding voice when eating or drinking. Over time this can lead to weight loss and repeated chest infections.

  1. Chest Pain and Tightness

The symptoms of chest tightness after eating include:

  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Chest pain
  • A fever that develops within an hour of eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Congestion after eating or drinking
  • Fatigue or shortness of breath while eating
  • Painful swallowing
  • A burning sensation in the chest
  1. Fever

In general, the symptoms of a fever after eating may include:

A cough that will not go away and is accompanied by wheezing (noise when breathing out), chills, phlegm (thick mucus), nausea, or vomiting.

Fever over 101.5 Fahrenheit or lasting more than a day or two.

Muscle aches and fatigue.

Dizziness or confusion.

  1. Symptoms of Asthma

The symptoms of asthma after eating can include chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing out fully when exhaling.

It is important to note that food is not a common asthma trigger but some people may notice that certain foods can trigger these symptoms. These foods may include dried fruits and vegetables, packaged potatoes, wine and beer, bottled lime, and lemon juice shrimp pickled foods.

  1. Allergy Symptoms

The allergy symptoms of coughing after eating can include vomiting and/or stomach cramps; hives; shortness of breath; wheezing; repetitive cough; shock or circulatory collapse; tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing; swelling of the tongue; pale or blue coloring of skin; dizziness or feeling faint. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening reaction that can send your body into shock. Your esophagus may be experiencing spasms, which can cause a cough.

What steps can be taken to relieve symptoms of coughing after eating?

Step 1: Know the causes of post-meal coughing.

There are many potential causes of coughing after eating, including:

  • Consuming food or liquids too rapidly or in excess.
  • Allergies or sensitivity to certain foods and substances
  • Irritation of the throat or nasal passages due to postnasal drip
  • Dry mouth syndrome, which can lead to a more painful cough when food is swallowed

The effects of coughing after eating can range from minor discomfort to serious health problems. Coughing after eating can cause throat, and chest pain, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and even heartburn. It can also cause headaches and fatigue due to lack of sleep due to frequent coughing at night. It may also be a sign of more serious conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Step 2: Try acid reflux medications and other treatment options for acid reflux

Treatment options for symptoms of coughing due to acid reflux include: antacids, short-term acid blockers, proton pump inhibitors, raising the head of the bed, eating 3-4 hours before bedtime (and no bedtime snacks), eating smaller meals, keeping a healthy weight, limiting fatty foods, colas, coffee tea alcohol chocolate peppermint citrus and tomatoes quitting smoking wearing loose clothing

Step 3: Consider getting a manometry and 24-hour pH study

It is important to get a manometry and 24-hour pH study after eating to relieve symptoms of coughing because this test can help determine the cause of any swallowing difficulties. In addition, it provides valuable information about the functioning of your esophagus and stomach, which can be used to develop an effective treatment plan.

Getting these tests can also help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your coughing symptoms. Furthermore, having this record information will aid your doctor in providing more targeted treatment options in the future if necessary.

Step 4: Use inhalers for respiratory infections

  • Use your inhaler as directed by your doctor, typically once or twice daily.
  • Follow the instructions on the label of your inhaler to find the correct dose and method of use for you.
  • Before using an inhaler, shake it well to mix up the medication inside and make sure it is filled with air instead of liquid propellants or other additives that may be present in some models of inhalers.
  • Place the mouthpiece between your lips and inhale slowly through your mouth while pressing down on the canister button at the same time to release a dose into your mouth area (if applicable).
  • Continue breathing in slowly through both nostrils while holding down on the canister button until all medicine has been released into your lungs (if applicable).
  • After use, dispose of any remaining medicine by local laws/regulations/practices related to proper disposal of medical waste products if applicable.

Step 5: Consider using a swallowing aid such as COVID-19

Coughing after eating can be caused by dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. This can lead to airway obstruction, which may cause coughing or other respiratory symptoms.

The use of a swallowing aid such as COVID-19 can help relieve these symptoms by providing direct laryngeal stimulation that triggers the muscles needed for swallowing.

This helps reduce the risk of aspiration and improves food intake for those with dysphagia.

Step 6: Stay hydrated with a regular glass of water

Staying hydrated after eating can help relieve symptoms of coughing by keeping the throat hydrated and lubricated.

Drinking plenty of water or other fluids after meals can help reduce the irritation caused by eating and improve the flow of saliva, which helps to clear away food particles and reduce coughing.

Step 7: Take prescribed medications according to the doctor’s orders

  1. Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen. Before visiting your healthcare provider, write down questions you want to be answered about your condition and medications.
  2. Bring someone with you to help ask questions and remember what is discussed during the visit.
  3. Write down the name of a new diagnosis, any new medicines or treatments prescribed, as well as any instructions provided by your healthcare provider related to taking these medications or treatments (e.g., when to take them).
  4. Know why a new medicine or treatment has been prescribed and how it will help relieve your symptoms. Also, know what side effects may occur from taking this medication/treatment.


What are the potential triggers for coughing after eating?

There are many potential triggers for coughing after eating, including:

  1. Food Allergy or Intolerance – If you have a food allergy or intolerance, consuming certain foods may trigger an allergic reaction that leads to coughing.
  2.  Acid Reflux – Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus causing irritation and inflammation which can lead to coughing after eating.
  3. Airway Irritation – Certain foods like onions, garlic, and spicy dishes can cause airway irritation which leads to coughing after eating in some people.
  4. Dry Mouth Syndrome – Dry mouth syndrome is characterized by a lack of saliva production resulting in dryness of the throat which can lead to increased susceptibility to cough when food is consumed due to its inability to lubricate the throat properly while swallowing it down.

Are there any treatments for coughing after eating?

Yes, there are treatments for coughing after eating. For example, drinking water or taking cough suppressants can help reduce the severity of the cough. Eating smaller meals and avoiding spicy foods can also help reduce symptoms.

What are the long-term effects of coughing after eating?

The long-term effects of coughing after eating include:

– Increased risk of developing chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

– Damage to the lungs due to irritation caused by inhaling food particles while coughing.

– Loss of nutrients from food due to increased gas production during digestion.

How Can CareClinic help discover your triggers?

To help patients discover potential triggers for their coughing after eating, I recommend using the CareClinic app. This app allows patients to log their symptoms, meals, and activities throughout the day, making it easy to identify patterns and potential triggers. Additionally, the app includes a symptom tracker, which can help patients and their healthcare providers track the effectiveness of different treatments over time. By using an App or any sort of diary, you can take an active role in managing your overall wellness and learn more about your health. Be sure to setup reminders to take any medications or to engage in healthy habits in the App as well!


Coughing after eating is an involuntary act that can be caused by a variety of factors. Food allergies, dietary changes, digestive issues, and acid reflux disease are some of the most common causes of coughing after eating. It is important to identify the cause of your coughing to determine the best treatment option. Treatment options include medications, lifestyle changes, and medical interventions. It is important to seek medical advice if symptoms persist for more than a few days or worsen. At home, you can also start monitoring your health using the CareClinic app, get it by clicking here for iOS or Android.



Download CareClinic Pill & Symptom Tracker App

Chloe M.