Cold drinks are popular in summer because they are refreshing and can help you stay hydrated. However, drinking something cold may cause a cough.
There are several reasons cough occurs after drinking something cold, including throat irritation & infections, asthma bronchospasm, GERD, allergy, mucus hardening, and postnasal drip.
Table of Contents
1. Throat Irritation
One of the reasons that a cold drink can make you cough is because it irritates the throat tissues. When cold water travels down your throat, it can cause irritation on the lining of your esophagus and larynx. This irritation will make you want to clear your throat and cough, in order to get rid of the irritation.
2. Throat Infections
Our respiratory system has a protective covering called “Respiratory Mucosa” that acts as the first line of defense against various microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
When you ingest cold foods and beverages, however, this membrane becomes clogged or shrinks, allowing microorganisms to enter the respiratory system. Then it causes the throat to become inflamed, which may sore the muscles in your throat and make you cough as well.
Cold is a known trigger for asthma and cold drinks or cold foods (ex. ice cream) may cause asthma symptoms, like a cough. People with asthma are more likely to have a cough after a cold drink.
It is believed that the body’s natural response to cold water entering one’s body is to increase breathing rate and constrict airways, due to the change in temperature inside the lungs. With an already narrowed airway, this can lead to coughing fits.
Bronchospasm causes someone to cough because of a narrowing in the airway. When cold water goes down into the throat, it causes an automatic reaction that narrows the airways. Once these airways tighten, they cause the cough reflex to be activated and it causes one to start coughing.
Normally, the airways will relax and expand again after a short period of time (in about 10 minutes). If someone starts drinking cold water frequently, this can make bronchospasm worse and lead to chronic bronchitis.
Another reason why drinking cold drinks can make people cough is because of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This occurs when the stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, and it often causes heartburn and coughing. The cold drink can aggravate these symptoms by making the stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus.
Some people are allergic to cold drinks. When the weather is hot, it’s tempting to reach for a cold drink to help soothe parched throats. But for those with allergies, cold drinks may lead to an annoying cough as cold water becomes an irritant and leads to an allergic reaction – coughing.
When we drink cold liquids, our throats constrict. This makes it harder for us to swallow, which can cause the muscles to spasm and produce a hacking cough. The coughing often occurs at the very beginning of swallowing or when liquids are touched to the lips.
What’s more, some cold liquids contain compounds that irritate allergy symptoms.
7. Mucus Hardening
One possible explanation for why a cold drink makes you cough is that the cold liquid can cause mucus to build up in your throat. Coughing is an important way to remove foreign objects and mucus from your throat. When this mucus accumulates, it can trigger a coughing fit as you try to clear your airways.
8. Postnasal drip
Postnasal drip is a condition that causes mucus to drip down the back of your throat from your nose. It can make you cough because the mucus irritates the lining of your throat, which makes you want to clear your throat or cough to get rid of it.
Here are 8 possible causes of coughing after drinking something cold. If you’re experiencing this problem, better stop cold drinks and try room temperature drinks. See a doctor if your cough is severe. Cold drinks can be nice during hot weather, but they may not be so good for your health.