Answering the Question, “Why Does Ice Cream Make Me Cough?”

Are you coughing after eating a tub of ice cream? If yes, is this the first time, or has it happened before? Whichever it is, there is no cause for alarm. When you cough after eating ice cream, the reason can be traced to two sources.
why does ice cream make me cough oman with sensitive teeth and cold ice cream

Are you coughing after eating a tub of ice cream? If yes, is this the first time, or has it happened before? Whichever it is, there is no cause for alarm. When you cough after eating ice cream, the reason can be traced to two sources.

The first is your body, which may have an underlying medical condition triggered by the ice cream consumption. The second has to deal with the ice cream itself, which may contain ingredients your body does not agree with. In the following section, we will examine why ice cream makes you cough.

Likely Causes of Coughing After Eating Ice Cream

Here we will go over some likely reasons you’re coughing after eating ice cream. Knowing the cause will help you determine whether it’s serious enough to visit the hospital. It will also help you prevent future occurrences. Here we go:


The first reason you may be coughing after eating ice cream is if you have an allergy. Allergies come in different forms, but those who are allergic to dairy often find themselves coughing after eating ice cream. To be sure that it is an allergy, you should observe your reaction to other dairy products such as milk and cheese.

It may be a dairy allergy if you notice similar discomforts after eating these products. However, it is not always so. You might not have a milk allergy and still cough every time you eat ice cream. That may have to do with another ingredient in the product you are unaware of.

It’s better to avoid ice cream if you have allergic reactions to it. The reason is that your body sees such food as a threat. You’ll end up coughing as your body tries to expel the food from your system and protect itself. If it is not an allergy, it may be something else.


Asthmatic girl having an asthma attack

Another likely reason you cough every time you eat ice cream is due to asthma. If you have asthma, your body will react against many things around you, such as dust, smoke, pollen, and the cold. The sharp temperature change can trigger coughing when you eat ice cream or other cold drinks.

If you have asthma, it is better that you don’t eat ice cream. That’s a better option than using your inhaler afterward to ease the chest pains. You should consult a physician if you have not been diagnosed with asthma but notice similar symptoms. They will help you determine whether it is an allergy, asthma, or something else.


When people cough after eating, it can be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It causes pain in the upper part of the chest or stomach and coughing after meals. GERD can be triggered by any food or drink, not just ice cream. 

The reflux of food and drinks causes GERD in the esophagus. In addition, your esophagus becomes irritated when these items touch its walls with the acid produced after ingestion. This irritation causes chest pain and makes you cough as your body struggles to adjust.

If you have GERD, you should follow your physician’s advice. Avoiding ice creams doesn’t make a difference in this case since any food or drink can trigger it.


Bronchospasm is common in people with asthma and allergies. It’s the condition whereby the muscles along your airways suddenly tighten when exposed to extremely cold temperatures. For example, when you eat ice cream or cold drinks, this condition is triggered, and your airways become narrow. This causes difficulty in breathing and instigates cough.

While bronchospasm is common in people with asthma and allergies, others have it too. Some people have sensitive throats which react to cold foods and drinks by coughing. Since ice cream is extremely cold, it easily triggers bronchospasm and causes you to cough after eating it.


For some people, coughing after eating ice cream results from an infection in their throat or elsewhere. Throat infections cause your esophagus to become swollen and sensitive. Any cold food or drink intake will cause discomfort, like coughing. Sometimes, you feel discomfort even if the food is not cold.

Infections are caused by different micro-organisms such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses. They have to be treated as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ease your discomfort. Once the infection is treated, you can return to enjoying your food and drinks, including ice cream.

Mucus Hardening

You may discover mucus trying to get out when you cough after eating ice cream. This mucus is already present in your trachea (windpipe) but is hardened by the coolness of the ice cream when it comes from the esophagus. Usually, the mucus travels to your throat to clear the airway.

However, when you eat ice cream, the coolness hardens the mucus. You start coughing as your body tries to eject the thickened mucus from its system. The more ice cream you eat, the more your trachea gets cool, and the mucus gets hardened.

You may also notice similar symptoms after drinking cold drinks and have to clear phlegm from your throat.

How to Make Your Cough Go Away

Now that you know why ice cream makes you cough, it’s easy to get rid of it. In most instances, simple tricks will get it done. You need to visit your physician only in repeating and aggressive cases. Here are some ways to make your cough go away.

Drink Water

The first thing to do is to try and clear your airway and remove the irritant. Drinking water will do this quickly and effectively. Once the water washes away the irritant from your throat, you can observe whether the situation has improved.

Have a Warm Drink

When coughing after having ice cream or a cold drink, you can have a warm drink to calm your throat. A warm drink will also soften the hardened mucus in your trachea and relieve your cough.

Have Some Honey/Lemon Water

Having some honey will reduce the irritation in your throat and soothe it. It’s one of the oldest cough remedies and serves several other beneficial purposes. You can add a spoon of honey to a cup of warm water or herbal tea. You can also add lemon to the honey and water before drinking.

Drink Licorice Tea

Drinking warm licorice tea is one of the best sore throat remedies. If you have licorice root, boil for 10 minutes with a teaspoon of powdered licorice in 250 ml of water. Drink the tea warm to reduce your cough and soothe your throat burn.

Gargle Salt Water

Young Woman Gargle Salt Water

You can simply gargle salt water if you don’t have honey, lemon, or licorice tea. Gargling is a common home remedy to relieve sore throat. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt to one and a half cups of warm water and gargle it throughout the day. 

Consult Your Doctor

If you realize that home remedies do not make much difference to your cough, get medical advice from a qualified doctor. A normal cough should not last more than a week or two. If your cough persists after that, you should see a doctor. There is a greater need for urgency if you notice other symptoms such as fever, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Your doctor will know how to treat the cough, whether it is a one-time occurrence or caused by an underlying condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

People naturally get concerned when they notice themselves coughing after eating ice cream. Some start panicking while others ask questions about the possible causes. First, we will answer some common questions people have about ice cream and coughing.

Why do I cough when I eat ice cream?

You cough after eating ice cream because you have an allergy to dairy or a product used in the ice cream. It may also result from asthma, GERD, bronchospasm, or infection. You should consult a doctor for a clear diagnosis if the cough is persistent.

Is it bad to eat ice cream when I have a cough?

No, there is no reason you shouldn’t eat ice cream when you have a cough. The belief that ice cream makes your cough worse is a myth. If you have a cough, ice cream and some dairy products such as milk and creamy foods will soothe your throat.

Why does eating ice cream or cold frozen drinks cause heavy coughing afterward?

This has to do mainly with mucus production and thickening. Ice cream and cold drinks cause mucus to solidify from your trachea to your throat. The hardened mucus blocks your airway, and your body reacts to expel it. The result is an aggressive cough.

Final Thoughts

We understand now that coughing after eating ice cream is not necessarily bad. You don’t have to run to the hospital immediately, but you should not ignore it either. Most conditions that make you cough after eating ice cream are easily managed. Your physician will advise you on whether or not it is necessary to stay away from ice cream in the future.



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