Why Do I Cough When I’m Hungry

7 Surprising Reasons Why You Cough After Eating

Postprandial cough, or coughing after eating, is a common issue that many people experience. While it may seem strange, there are actually several reasons why this happens. In this article, we will explore these reasons and provide some valuable insights. So, if you’ve ever wondered why you cough when you’re hungry, keep reading to find out!


The Nature of Coughs

Let’s start with the basics. A cough is your body’s natural response to an irritation in the respiratory tract. It’s a mechanism that helps your body expel any unwanted irritants or mucus from your airways.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD, also known as reflux, is the leading cause of coughing after eating. When the circular muscles in your stomach don’t function properly, it allows acid to flow back up into your esophagus and throat. This can result in various symptoms such as mid-chest pain, a burning sensation in your chest or throat, and even a taste of acid in your mouth. In some cases, you might experience laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), a form of silent reflux that manifests as hoarseness of voice and worsens after eating or lying down. If you’re experiencing these symptoms frequently or for an extended period, it’s essential to seek medical advice to prevent any potential complications.

chest pain


Allergies, whether airborne or food-related, can trigger a persistent cough. Sometimes, food allergies can cause more severe problems such as anaphylaxis, but most food allergies are not life-threatening. If you suspect you have food allergies, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider for allergy testing or elimination diets. Allergies can develop at any point in life, so even if you weren’t allergic as a child, you could become allergic as an adult.

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People with asthma often experience coughing after eating. Certain foods can act as triggers, resulting in mild coughing or severe breathing difficulties. If you have asthma, it’s essential to discuss ways to avoid triggers and medications with your doctor.

Excessive Phlegm Production

Certain foods, especially dairy products, are known to cause excessive phlegm production. Dairy-containing foods like milk and cream can lead to coughing as your body tries to clear the extra phlegm from your airways. Many singers and public speakers avoid these foods before performances to prevent any disruption caused by excessive phlegm.


Respiratory Infections

Coughing can also be a result of respiratory infections caused by bacteria or viruses. These infections irritate your airways and prompt coughing as a defense mechanism. Common examples include the common cold, sinus infections, and Covid. Usually, coughing associated with respiratory infections goes away within a couple of weeks. However, if your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s advisable to seek medical attention.


If you find yourself coughing immediately after eating, aspiration might be the culprit. Aspiration occurs when food or drink goes below your vocal cords, irritating your airways. In severe cases, it can lead to inflammation or infection. Symptoms of aspiration include chest pain, recurrent pneumonia, fevers, excessive saliva, wheezing, and persistent coughing. If you suspect that you’re aspirating, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider and potentially undergo tests to evaluate the severity. A speech therapist may also be recommended to help you adjust your eating habits and minimize aspiration.



Swallowing requires complex coordination between various muscles in your mouth, throat, and esophagus. Sometimes, your body has difficulty with this process, resulting in a feeling of food getting stuck. Dysphagia can be caused by esophageal narrowing or inflammation. If you experience this symptom, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider, who may recommend imaging tests to examine your esophagus.

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When to Seek Medical Attention

While most causes of coughing after eating are not severe, there are instances where it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional. If your symptoms last for more than a week or occur frequently, it’s advisable to visit your doctor to explore potential diagnosis and treatment options. However, certain red flags should prompt immediate medical attention. These include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing while lying down
  • Sweating while or immediately after eating
  • Feeling that your throat is closing
  • Persistent fevers
  • Chest pain or pain in your arms
  • Dizziness or fainting after eating

At Healthcare Associates of Texas, you can find board-certified primary care and internal medicine doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating chronic coughing and related symptoms. To learn more, visit 5 WS.


The 5 Ws and H are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. 5ws.wiki will best answer all your questions

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