What Causes Coughing After Eating? Its Symptoms And Treatment

One can have coughing spell after eating. If this occurs once in a while, one need not pay much attention to this but if the pattern remains consistent over a period of time then one must consult a doctor and get himself examined to rule out any underlying condition. Treatment should be taken to treat the condition.

There are many underlying conditions which can cause coughing after eating.

  • While swallowing, food or drink may enter the windpipe accidentally resulting in a coughing spell. In this case, coughing is a normal body reflex to throw out foreign materials from the respiratory tract.
    Sometimes this may not help and patient may develop aspiration pneumonia. People suffering from aspiration pneumonia often experience persistent cough after eating.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease – Ingested food and acid regurgitates, after eating, in the patient and may trigger coughing. Along with cough, patient will complain of heartburn.
  • Dysphagia can cause excessive coughing after eating. Dysphagia means difficulty in swallowing. In cases of oropharyngeal dysphagia, throat muscles become weak due to cancer or neurological problem or some damage. This results in a bout of coughing while swallowing. Esophageal dysphagia in which a patient feels that a morsel is stuck in the throat and results in coughing. This is very commonly seen among such patients.
  • Zenker’s diverticula: Pouches are formed above esophageal sphincter. Food gets trapped in these pouches resulting in irritation leading to coughing spells after eating. Elderly people are affected with this ailment. Males are more prone to develop Zenker’s diverticula.
  • Asthmatic patients can be allergic to certain food substances such as food color or substances like wheat, peanuts, shellfish etc. If such people ingest food items to which they are allergic to, it may trigger the asthma and cause coughing spells after eating.

Symptoms Of Coughing After Eating

  • Person will start coughing after eating.
  • If the person is asthmatic, he may experience difficulty in breathing.
  • Sometimes, choking feeling may prevail.
  • If coughing is due to accidental aspiration it may last for few minutes. Recurrence will be rare.
  • Person suffering from gasteoesophadeal reflux disease will have heartburn; food particles and acid will come up the throat.
  • Person suffering from neurological disease or cancer will represent with associated symptoms. Symptoms are likely to worsen over a period of time.

Diagnosis: If coughing spells remain persistent every time, when you have meals, get yourself examined by a doctor. Depending on history and physical examination, tests will be carried out to reach diagnosis.

Treatment For Coughing After Eating

  • No treatment is required for reflex coughing after eating. One must eat slowly. Do not talk while eating to prevent aspiration. Drink small sips of water if there is irritation. Attack of reflex cough usually subsides in fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Asthmatic patients must avoid food items to which they are allergic to. Keep emergency medicines or inhalers with you to treat yourself immediately. If patient does not get better with inhalers or medication take him to the hospital for emergency treatment.
  • People suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease should not eat large quantity of food at a time. Take small quantity of food every three hourly. Do not lie down immediately after eating. One can lie down with upper body raised at 45 degrees in bed. Avoid spicy food that may cause further irritation.
  • Neurological disorder or cancer should be treated under expert guidance.

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