Cough after eating: causes, diagnosis and treatment

The occurrence of cough does not always indicate the development of the disease, but sometimes it may indicate the need for an urgent appointment with a doctor.

Cough is a reflex that triggers during the development of inflammatory processes, or in response to the ingestion of foreign objects or microparticles into the respiratory system.

When it appears after eating, many people get scared when they immediately think about the pathological causes of this symptom.

Character cough

A cough after eating is differentiated by several signs that may indicate whether there is a disease, or the reason lies elsewhere.

  1. Wet or productive cough. If a large amount of mucus is produced during coughing, this indicates the development of respiratory diseases. Coughing after eating can be triggered by emphysema, chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, or asthmatic bronchitis. Also, the causes of intensive expectoration can be found in pneumonia, tracheitis, and acute obstructive bronchitis. With these diseases, the secret comes out in the form of a thick, viscous sputum. A coughing fit can be literally suffocating.
  2. Dry, or unproductive. It may be caused by food entering the airway lumen. Instant aspiration is fraught with serious health consequences. Other types of it can lead to the penetration of particles in the respiratory tract into the trachea, bronchi and other pulmonary structures. Sometimes it is possible to develop aspiration pneumonia.
  3. Cough with vomiting. It should be borne in mind that in this case the vomit is not always released with increased intensity. This phenomenon is called esophageal vomiting, and is characterized by throwing the contents of the stomach back into the esophagus in different quantities. Among the main causes can be noted stenosis of the esophageal sphincter, various tumors, GERD.

It is important to be able to distinguish esophageal vomiting from normal. The first occurs almost immediately after a meal, or within a few minutes after it. Food just does not have time to digest in the stomach.

Gastric vomiting opens after 20 minutes or a few hours. At the same time, the vomit excreted has a sour taste, often accompanied by heartburn attacks. Coughing may not be accompanied by vomiting, but the person will suffer from heaviness and discomfort in the stomach.

Causes of cough after eating

Coughing with sputum after eating does not always indicate the development of the disease. This symptom is quite common in pregnant women, as well as heartburn, bouts of nausea and vomiting.

The causes of coughing after eating in humans can be caused by both internal and external factors. Anyway, it is impossible to engage in self-diagnostics and self-treatment - this can only aggravate the situation. Therefore, with the appearance of this symptom, it is necessary to consult a doctor for diagnosis and the appointment of adequate therapy.

A cough after eating can occur for many reasons. We will consider the most common and likely ones.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a pathology in which the tone of the muscular esophageal ring is reduced. As a result, the contents of the stomach is thrown back into the esophagus shortly after meals. Along with this, the air escapes from the organ, which has penetrated it during the meal.

In this case, the cough occurs after 5 - 10 minutes after eating, because it is during this period that the esophageal sphincter opens as much as possible. The re-throwing of food leads to serious damage to the mucous membrane of the esophagus, and such a deviation requires serious treatment.

Pathology of the digestive tract

Any disruption in the functioning of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract may well cause cough after eating.

For the diagnosis, anamnesis is collected, abdominal palpation, visual examination, and a number of instrumental and laboratory tests are appointed. Treatment is the appointment of certain groups of drugs. In parallel, the patient must follow a special diet.


If a person has eaten a product to which his body has a hypersensitivity or "rejection", then a cough after eating is a manifestation of an allergic reaction. Various berries, moldy cheeses, honey, different types of nuts and spices, citrus fruits, alcoholic beverages, etc. - all of these products are allergenic. If food allergies occur, it is even possible to develop anaphylactic shock, which may well be fatal.


This term refers to a violation of swallowing function and the promotion of food through the esophagus. Cough occurs when food lump (or part of it) gets into the nasopharynx, or into the respiratory tract. This symptom is especially characteristic of young children, who, unlike adults, cannot complain about the feeling of food getting stuck on the way to the stomach.


In this case, the cough after eating is provoked by bronchial spasm, which causes reflux. Following this, stimulation of the vagal receptors located in the distal region of the esophagus occurs.

Coughing after eating can also be caused by pieces of food entering the lumen of the bronchi, which leads to irritation of the local receptors. Attacks of acne after eating with bronchial asthma can lead to an exacerbation of the pathology, and cause serious complications in the patient.


The lack of water in the body is more common in the elderly, and is explained by physiological changes in the body. This leads to impaired digestive function, and that is why in elderly patients, coughing after eating is a fairly common phenomenon.

Infectious lesions of the respiratory system

In respiratory diseases, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract are irritated, so even minor temperature drops or the ingress of small fish bone into their lumen can cause their irritation and spasm. As a result, a cough occurs during or after a meal. However, in this case, the symptom can bother the patient throughout the day.

Intake of food in the respiratory tract

Most often, this cough occurs in young children, as well as in the elderly. In the process of absorbing food, while inhaling, pieces of food can get "not into that throat." As a consequence, there is a feeling of discomfort, a cough. In this situation, a person will cough long and intensively inhale the air.

Coughing after a meal should begin with determining and eliminating the cause of its occurrence. So, if a person suffers from bronchitis or bronchial asthma, he should seek help from a pulmonologist.

Therapy of GERD and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract is performed by a gastroenterologist. Lack of medical intervention can provoke vomiting, as well as other disorders of the digestive system. A person may even have an aversion to food, since the process of its absorption will cause him to associate with an immediate deterioration of health. Such a deviation can have very serious consequences, and can even lead to a patient’s disability.


To start with a cough after a meal, you must consult a pulmonologist. After a thorough examination and anamnesis, the patient can be referred for additional consultations to an allergist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, and otolaryngologist.

For diagnosis, a number of studies are carried out, including:

  • x-rays of the chest;
  • FGDS;
  • x-ray of the stomach;
  • immunological tests;
  • spirography;
  • stress tests;
  • cardiography.


When coughing after a meal, caused by throwing food back into the esophagus, antacids are used:

  • Gaviscon;
  • Phosphalugel;
  • Maalox;
  • Almagel;
  • Rennie.

With these drugs, the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is reduced, thereby preventing or eliminating cough. They can be released in the form of:

  • tablets;
  • chewing lozenges;
  • suspensions.

A cough after eating, caused by respiratory diseases, is treated with anti-inflammatory tablets and lozenges. The most effective are:

  • Dr. IOM;
  • Septolete Total;
  • Strepsils Intensive;
  • Trakhisan and so forth.

Allergy-provoked cough is stopped by the use of an antihistamine and antiallergy prescribed by a doctor.

If the cause of the symptom is bloating, it can be eliminated or prevented by using:

  • activated carbon;
  • Espumizana;
  • Enterosgelya.

Without the elimination of the main source of indisposition, the drugs considered will have only a short-term effect.

Home Prevention

To prevent coughing after eating, you must:

  • chew food thoroughly;
  • exclude allergenic products from the menu;
  • steam inhalations from time to time;
  • drink enough liquid;
  • eat fractionally;
  • stop smoking;
  • reduce the frequency of fatty foods, alcohol, and tonic drinks;
  • follow the weight.

If the above tips have been ineffective, and the cough after eating remains a constant companion, a visit to the doctor should not be postponed in any way. Only a competent specialist will be able to accurately determine the true causes of the ailment, prescribe the necessary medications and write down a detailed treatment regimen. Also, the doctor will tell you how in the future to avoid repeated appearances of the cough reflex after eating.

Watch the video: Mayo Clinic's Chronic Cough Clinic (December 2019).


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