We’ve all experienced it before — taking a big sip of an ice-cold drink or eating a spoonful of ice cream, only to be hit with a sudden coughing fit. It’s an unpleasant and uncomfortable sensation that can leave you wondering why it happens. In this post, we’ll explore the reasons behind why you might cough after consuming something cold.
What Causes This Coughing Sensation?
The sensation of coughing after consuming something cold is known as a “cold-induced cough.” It’s a reflexive response that occurs when the cold food or drink comes into contact with the back of your throat and causes a brief constriction of the airways. When this happens, the body immediately tries to expel the substance causing the irritation through coughing.
The cold-induced cough is a symptom that can be caused by several factors including cold air, cold drinks or food, and even certain medical conditions. It’s most commonly experienced when the weather is cold, but can also occur during the summer months when we consume cold drinks and frozen treats.
How Does It Happen?
When we consume something cold, our body tries to warm it up to match our internal body temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. During this process, the cold substance comes into contact with the sensitive tissues at the back of our throat, causing a quick constriction of the airways.
The constriction of the airways is a reflexive response that’s designed to prevent foreign objects from entering the lungs. When the airways constrict, the body immediately tries to expel the substance causing the irritation through coughing. In most cases, this reflexive response only lasts for a few seconds, and the coughing fit subsides quickly.
What Are The Other Causes Of Cold-Induced Cough?
While consuming cold substances is the most common cause of a cold-induced cough, there are several other factors that can contribute to this phenomenon as well. Here are some other causes of cold-induced cough:
If you have asthma, you’re more likely to experience a cold-induced cough. When you’re exposed to cold air, your airways narrow in response, making it more difficult for you to breathe. This can cause a cough, chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Allergies can also contribute to a cold-induced cough. When you’re exposed to an allergen, your body responds by producing histamine, which can cause inflammation in your airways. Inflammation can lead to a narrowing of the airways and cause a cough.
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
GERD is a condition in which stomach acid flows back into your esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation. When stomach acid reaches the back of your throat, it can trigger a coughing fit.
Upper Respiratory Infections
A cold-induced cough can also be a symptom of an upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold or flu. When you have a respiratory infection, your airways can become inflamed, making it more difficult to breathe. This can cause a cough.
Preventing A Cold-Induced Cough
While you can’t completely prevent a cold-induced cough, there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency and intensity of coughing fits. Here are some tips to help you avoid coughing after consuming something cold:
One way to reduce the likelihood of a cold-induced coughing fit is to slow down when consuming cold substances. Taking small sips or bites and allowing the substance to warm up a bit in your mouth before swallowing can help reduce the shock to your system.
Drinking enough fluids can help keep your airways moist and reduce irritation. Stick to room temperature fluids or let cold drinks or food come to room temperature before consuming.
Control Your Environment
If you’re more sensitive to cold air, try to avoid exposure to cold air or keep a scarf or a mask that can help warm up the air before you breathe in.
Treating Cold-Induced Cough
If you’re struggling with a cold-induced cough, there are several things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms. Here are some of the most effective treatments:
Drinking hot liquids such as tea or soup can help soothe your airways and reduce inflammation.
Cough Drops or Hard Candies
Sucking on cough drops or hard candies can help stimulate saliva production, which can help soothe your airways and reduce irritation.
Antihistamines and Bronchodilators
If you have asthma or allergies that contribute to your cold-induced cough, an antihistamine or bronchodilator may help to alleviate your symptoms.
If your cough persists despite home interventions, you may need to talk to a doctor for prescription medication.
In conclusion, a cold-induced cough is a natural reflexive response that occurs when we consume cold substances. While it’s not entirely preventable, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a coughing fit. If your cough persists despite home interventions, it’s important to talk to a doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions. Taking care of this issue can help you enjoy cold drinks and ice cream without the discomfort of an unexpected fit of coughing.
What does it mean when you cough after eating and drinking?
Coughing is a natural response that helps clear away any impurities or irritants present in the throat and airway. However, if coughing occurs frequently after eating and drinking, it may indicate an underlying medical condition. There are several possible causes for coughing after eating, including acid reflux, asthma, food allergies, and difficulty swallowing.
One of the most common reasons for coughing after eating or drinking is acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus. This can cause irritation to the throat and airways and lead to coughing. Acid reflux can be triggered by eating certain foods, including spicy or fatty foods, chocolate, and citrus fruits.
Asthma is another potential cause of coughing after eating. Asthma is a condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, which can lead to difficulty breathing and coughing. Eating can trigger an asthma attack, particularly if the person has an allergy to certain foods, such as shellfish or peanuts.
Food allergies can also lead to coughing after eating. People may develop an allergic reaction to certain foods, including milk, soy, wheat, and fish. A cough may indicate an allergy when it is accompanied by other symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, and a swollen tongue or throat. It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms occur.
Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, can also cause coughing after eating. This occurs when food is not adequately chewed, or the muscles in the throat are not functioning correctly. Coughing and choking after swallowing may be a signal that food or liquid has accidentally entered the windpipe instead of the esophagus, causing irritation and coughing.
Coughing after eating or drinking can be a symptom of various underlying medical conditions that require medical attention. It is best to consult a doctor if coughing persists for an extended period or is accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swallowing. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most of these health conditions can be effectively managed.
Why does cold make me cough?
When the temperature drops, people tend to spend more time indoors, which means there is an increased likelihood of coming into contact with viruses that cause colds. The common cold is caused by a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory system. One of the most common symptoms of a cold is coughing. While a cough is typically the body’s way of clearing the airways of mucus and other foreign matter, it can be frustrating and painful.
There are several reasons why cold weather can make a person cough more. For one, the air tends to be drier in the winter, which can cause the lining of the respiratory system to dry out. This can lead to irritation and inflammation, which can cause a cough. Additionally, when it’s cold outside, people tend to spend more time indoors with other people, which increases the likelihood of picking up a viral infection.
When the body is infected with a cold virus, it triggers an immune response that causes inflammation in the respiratory system. This inflammation causes the body to produce more mucus in an attempt to expel the virus. As the mucus travels down the throat, it can also cause irritation and inflammation, making you cough.
Another reason why cold weather can make you cough is that the muscles in the airways tend to constrict in response to the cold air. This can cause coughing as the body tries to expel the irritants from the airways. Additionally, cold air can cause the lining of the airways to become more sensitive, which can lead to coughing.
Cold weather can make you cough for several reasons. The dry air can cause irritation and inflammation in the respiratory system, viral infections can trigger an immune response that causes inflammation and mucus production, and cold air can cause the airways to constrict and become more sensitive. If you find that your cough is persistent or severe, it’s important to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying conditions.
Why do I keep coughing and I’m not sick?
A cough is the body’s natural reflex to clear the throat and airways of irritants, such as dust, smoke, or mucus. Sometimes, a cough can linger for weeks or months, even when you’re not sick. Dozens of conditions can cause a recurrent, lingering cough, but the lion’s share are caused by just five: postnasal drip, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic bronchitis, and treatment with ACE inhibitors, used for high blood pressure and heart failure.
Postnasal drip occurs when excess mucus flows down the back of your throat, resulting in irritation and cough. This type of cough is often worse at night or early in the morning and is often accompanied by a sore throat or hoarseness. Asthma causes airways to narrow or become inflamed, resulting in wheezing and cough. Some people with asthma experience cough as the only symptom. GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing irritation and cough. If you experience heartburn, regurgitation, or a sour taste in your mouth in addition to cough, GERD may be the culprit.
Chronic bronchitis, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), results from prolonged inflammation of the bronchial tubes. People with chronic bronchitis often experience a persistent cough with excessive mucus production. Finally, some people develop a cough as a side effect of ACE inhibitors, a common class of blood pressure medications. The cough is usually dry and can persist long after discontinuing the medication.
If you’re experiencing a persistent cough that’s not accompanied by other symptoms, and your doctor has ruled out the above conditions, there are several other less common causes to consider, including respiratory infections, environmental irritants, lung cancer, and heart failure. In general, a cough that lingers for more than three weeks warrants medical attention, regardless of other symptoms. Your doctor can help determine the underlying cause of your cough and recommend appropriate treatment.