ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have to cough after I eat?

Question

Why do I have to cough after I eat?

Everytime I eat I have to cough afterwards, and it feels like a cough coming straight out of my lungs, like they are tyring to push something out. It is hard to explain but its a producing cough, even though nothing is coming out. I then often have to clear my throat after I eat to make a whatever is in there go back down. What can this be?

Answer

You have a cough after you eat. Coughing is a reflex that you body has to prevent anything from going down the trachea, which the connection between your mouth and lung. When you eat, your airway is protected with a complex mechanism involving many muscles. When it is not protected, food or saliva or liquid can travel down the trachea and cause coughing. This condition is called aspiration. The complications that can occur from this is aspiration pneumonitis or aspiration pneumonia. Pneumonitis is when gastric acids from the stomach irritates the lungs. Pneumonia is infection of the lungs. People who are predisposed to this condition are people under medications that make them sleepy, people with stroke, people who are intoxicated, and people with musculoskeletal disease. You should make an appointment with your primary care doctor to have an exam to determine if you need any tests to help diagnose what is causing you to cough. Another explanation for your symptoms is acid reflux disease. If you are in a reclining position after you eat, the stomach acids can travel through the esophagus and into the throat, which can cause coughing. It can also cause a burning chest pain. It can also cause hoarseness in the voice. Again, please speak with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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