A man coughing into his elbow while holding a popsicle

Frozen Treats Trigger Asthma Attacks?

Recently, I was battling COVID. Yep, it finally got this germaphobe after 2 ½ years.

I had a fever and could feel the heat radiating off my body. That made me crave a frozen treat. Since my kids are adults now, I do not have a freezer full of frozen treats for summer. That was a must-have for when my kids were little, but what are my husband and I going to do with a freezer full of frozen treats now?

My friend and co-worker knew I was sick and dropped off some frozen treats for me.

They looked so refreshing! The cold washcloth on my forehead did not seem to be doing much. And the fever-reducing medicine was taking its sweet time to kick in.

I thought I would try a frozen treat.

I should have known better…

Frozen treats triggering asthma attacks

Did you know cold drinks and frozen treats can trigger asthma attacks?

How I found this out

I discovered this 10 years ago when my intern was sharing my large office since space in our building was tight. One morning she asked if I had just eaten a yogurt. Weird question, right?

She said, “Every morning when you eat a yogurt, you start coughing.”

Well, huh. I hadn’t put two and two together.

So what happened the next day? As soon as I had 3 or 4 spoons full of yogurt, my lungs tightened up and I started to cough. Huh.

Since then, I have noticed the same thing will happen with drinks that have too much ice. Now I am one of those people who has to order drinks without ice. Sigh.

I also have problems when I drink smoothies or have a snow cone. Since they have so much ice, I will usually cough so hard that I lose my voice. And that my friends is my husband’s FAVORITE time! Ha!

You would think by now I would have learned what my lungs do and do not like.

Different circumstances for trying a frozen treat

Maybe I can try a frozen treat this time and it will be OK?

After all, I just had a breathing treatment with my best friend, aka The Nebulizer. I was finally able to stop coughing for an hour or so. You know the cough – where you are coughing so hard you are gagging and almost throw up.

Fun stuff!

I thought since my asthma was momentarily controlled, I would try a frozen treat. The first bite was so satisfying – until I swallowed it. Then my lungs said, “What’s the big idea?! You know we don’t like anything cold!”

The cough started, and it was a bad one. I was gagging and my eyes were running. My husband looked at me with the deer in the headlights look and gasped, “What should I do?!”

I could only hold up one finger as a “wait” signal while I doubled over and was holding my ribs. My ribs were very sore from coughing so hard for so many weeks.

Then the anxiety took over. Do you ever have that happen during an asthma attack? Even though I’ve been battling asthma almost 30 years, I still panic when a hard or sudden attack starts.

When that happens, I think of my yoga classes when we learned breathing techniques. I try to hold my breath for a brief moment and then slowly let it out. My breathing is a little jagged, but if I can slowly exhale, it seems to help the asthma attack.

It also helps me gather my thoughts and try to calm down.

All of that for a frozen treat.

Was it worth it? Nope. I threw it in the sink and put another cold washcloth on my forehead. Then I tried to distract myself with a funny video.

Do cold or frozen foods trigger your asthma?

Does anyone else have an asthma attack after eating ice cream, smoothies or frozen treats?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

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

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Has asthma changed your exercise routine?