Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can certain foods trigger coughing?"
Is it possible for certain foods to trigger a fit of coughing? I have noticed that when I eat sweet dried fruit (such as a big piece of dried papaya or dried pineapple) it seems to coincide with a lot of dry coughing, as if my throat were just irritated. Could I be imagining this, or does coughing work this way for some people?
General questions about coughing are best addressed with a primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history and perform a physical exam. Depending upon the circumstances, a specialist such as an allergy-immunologist may also be consulted. In general, food should not lead to a fit of coughing, assuming, of course, that it is not being inhaled instead of swallowing. However, it is possible for food allergies to present as coughing associated with particular foods. In this case, it sounds as though distinct food triggers cause the cough, and this picture could be consistent with food allergies, either to the specific foods mentioned or to a preservative found in dried fruit. It is important to have these sorts of symptoms evaluated because food allergies, while common, can have serious health consequences. Repeated stimulation with an allergic trigger could lead to anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can be life threatening because of a restricted airway. It is impossible to determine whether the symptoms of coughing with certain foods are in fact caused by food allergies without doing further resting. A primary care physician can provide an initial assessment and then refer to an allergy specialist who will be able to do more specific tests to identify any allergies.
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