Person eating an apple with green bubbles floating up from their stomach.

There's My "Eating Cough" Again

Both of my college-aged sons were home on Saturday, so we decided to take them out to breakfast. After breakfast, my middle son said, "There goes my eating cough again." I just stared at him for a moment, trying to take in what he said. Seeing the look on my face, he said, "After I eat, I always start coughing." He also said it gets really bad when he lays down at night.

What is GERD?

Ahhhhh... I knew what was going on with him. I'm not a doctor, but I realized my son was probably having acid reflux. For those of you not familiar with acid reflux, it's when the stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus (the tube that connects your throat and stomach).

A more severe form of acid reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The symptoms for that can be:1,2

  • Heartburn
  • Sour liquid at the back of your mouth
  • Regurgitating food
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing that is ongoing, happens after eating, or happens at night

Asthma and GERD

So why am I writing about this on an asthma website? Well, did you know that over 3 out of 4 people with asthma also have GERD? If you treat your GERD, you may be able to relieve some of your asthma symptoms.3,4

There are many medications on the market that are used to treat GERD, such as antacids, short-term acid blockers, or proton pump inhibitors.

Cleveland Clinic also recommends:3

  • Raising the head of the bed by about 6 inches
  • Eating 3 to 4 hours before bedtime (and no bedtime snacks!)
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Limiting fatty foods, colas, coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, citrus, and tomatoes
  • Quitting smoking
  • Wearing loose clothing

Have an after-eating cough?

It's important to talk to your doctor and make sure you are treating your GERD with the right medicine. If not treated correctly, GERD may lead to lung damage, ulcers in the esophagus, and in some cases, Barrett's esophagus (which can lead to esophageal cancer).5

So, if you have an "eating cough" or start having asthma symptoms when you go to bed, talk to your doctor about acid reflux, GERD, and your asthma. Decide together what's best for you.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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