Are you feeling discomfort in your throat after intake of a meal? Does it feel like there is accumulation of fluid that is causing coughing reflex? Well to ease your tension know that this is a very common phenomenon.
In fact this is more common than it seems to be. This coughing reflex is caused due to excess secretion of mucus in the respiratory tract which is phlegm.
So, why do I get phlegm after eating?
Phlegm is the mucus that is secreted from the respiratory tract. The secretion of phlegm tends to increase after intake of meal. There are many reasons behind this such as acid reflux, food sensitivity or tolerance, rhinitis, sinusitis etc. There is no life threatening outcome of this so there is noting to worry about.
If you are wondering why do you get phlegm after eating, then you have come to the right place. This article will clear all your queries regarding formation of phlegm after eating, their causes and remedies.
Table of Content
Why Do I Get Phlegm After Eating?
The fluid that is produced in different parts of the body to provide protection and coverage to the vital organs from foreign bodies, dust, infectious particles, etc is known as mucus.
These fluids secretedcontains various types of enzymes that protect our body against tathogens. Respiratory system produces mucus that is known as phlegm.
Excessive phlegm is produced after the intake of food in many people. This is a very common condition. If a person is experiencing this condition then they should consult a doctor. After knowing the entire history o the patient the doctor will provide a diagnosis accordingly.
The causes behind the formation of extra phlegm in a person’s throat can vary.
The two main reasons for extra production of phlegm are:
- Acid reflux
- Food sensitivity
Other than this there are various other reasons which include:
- Vasomotor rhinitis
- Sinus infection (sinusitis)
Now let’s look into the details of main causes of phlegm formation after eating.
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux is a condition that can be characterized as the backflow of acid-containing contents of the stomach into the esophagus. The esophagus is a connecting tube between the throat and stomach.
Acid reflux usually occurs when the valve that is present at the end of our esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly after the food has reached your stomach. We know that the stomach contains acidic content.
It secretes hydrochloric acid and peptic acid for the digestion of food. When the lower esophageal sphincter fails to close properly then these acidic substances flow back through the valve into the esophagus. This results in heartburn and gives your mouth a sour taste.
Everyone has experienced acid reflux at least once in their lifetime. It is very normal to face heartburn.
But, there is a normal limit. If one faces heartburn or acid reflux more than twice a week and this goes on for several weeks that even regular intake of heartburn medications and antacids can not solve the problem then it can be said that the person has developed GERD.
GERD is gastroesophageal reflux disease which is also known as chronic acid disease. GERD should be treated by doctors and proper medications. If not treated timely then GERD can lead to some complicated diseases.
Signs and Symptoms of Acid Reflux
There are many signs and symptoms of acid reflux. Some of the main signs are mentioned below:
- Heartburn for a prolonged time
- Regurgitation of acid
- Trouble in swallowing
- Dysphonia in the morning
- Pain in the chest
- Tightening of the throat
- Dry cough
- Foul breath
- Sore throat
Risk Factors of Acid Reflux
Although all people may face acid reflux at one point in their life or another, there are a certain group of people who might be severely affected by GERD.
The people who are more at risk of GERD are:
- Overweight or obese people
- Pregnant woman
- Regular intake of medications that may cause acid reflux
Complications Caused by Acid Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is not a life-threatening disease but if it is left untreated for a long period of time then it may cause various complications. These complications might be harder to treat than GERD itself.
These complications include the following:
Esophagitis is the inflammation and irritation of the esophageal lining that is caused by stomach acid. Ulcers may be caused in the esophagus due to esophagitis. This causes chest pain, heartburn, difficulty in swallowing, and bleeding.
Untreated chronic acid reflux may lead to esophageal cancer. Cancer that occurs in the esophagus can be of two major types. These are namely adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Cancer that develops from the lower part of the esophagus or Barrett’s esophagus is known as adenocarcinoma. On the other hand, cancer that develops in the lining cell of the esophagus is known as squamous cell carcinoma.
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that can be characterized as a condition that is resulted from having untreated chronic acid reflux for a prolonged time. Due to repeated damage of the esophageal lining by the stomach acid from the acid reflux , the cells of the lining of the esophagus change over time. It is one of the main risk factors of esophageal cancer.
We know that the stomach acid damages the lining of the esophagus. These damaged lining becomes scarred and form strictures. These structures prevent the passage of the food into the stomach and thus interfere in the daily eating and drinking habits of an individual.
Food sensitivity is a condition that can be characterized as difficulty in the digestion of a specific type of food. Food sensitivity varies from one individual to the other. In this condition, a person has difficulty in digestion of a specific type of food. This condition may be confused with food allergy. But there’s a difference between food sensitivity and food allergy, food sensitivity is also known as food intolerance.
Food sensitivity is less severe than food allergy. When a person is allergic to a specific food then it involves the immune system to produce an allergen antibody reaction.
If a person intakes a food substance that they are allergic to even the smallest microscopic amount then it will result in a life-threatening allergic reaction. This reaction is known as anaphylaxis.
Whereas, if a person intakes a food they are intolerant or sensitive to then it will cause signs and symptoms such as gastric, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
A dispersed and deficiently understood reaction that occurs in association with increased levels of antibodies of IgG that are specific to food is known as a food sensitivity reaction. In a food allergy, the reaction and appearance of signs and symptoms are immediately after the ingestion of food.
Unlike that in food sensitivity, the signs and symptoms have delayed appearance. It may take a few hours to a few days before the appearance of the symptoms.
There’s a possibility that an individual may spend a lifetime without even knowing that they have food sensitivity due to a lack of severe signs and symptoms.
This may also happen due to delayed onset of reaction which may be also mistaken as a minor common illness. Headache, abdominal pain, nausea, gas formation in the intestine are some of the symptoms of food sensitivity that can be easily healed by symptomatic treatment.
Characteristics of Food Sensitivity
Following are the characteristics of food sensitivity:
- The reaction time of food sensitivity ranges from 2-3 days.
- Food sensitivity is not a life-threatening reaction.
- It results in an immune response that is IgG-mediated.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Sensitivity
If you are suffering from any one of the following signs and symptoms then it can be said that you are suffering from food sensitivity. The signs and symptoms include the following:
- Gas formation in the stomach
- Pain in the stomach
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Itching of the mouth
- Mucus secretion from the nose
Food Substances That Can Cause Food Sensitivity Reaction
As previously mentioned, foods that cause food sensitivity differ from person to person. The foods that can cause food sensitivity are as follows:
- Milk (specifically, cow’s milk)
- Dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, coffee, etc.
- Fruits such as apples, mangoes, stone fruit, stone fruit, lentils, beans, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, onions, papaya, etc.
- Artificial sweeteners
- High-fructose corn syrup
From the above-mentioned food substances, it can be said that oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, certain carbohydrates, carbonated drinks, and foods that are easily fermented and deficiently absorbed can result in gastrointestinal distress and formation of intestinal gas.
Risk Factors of Food Sensitivity
Several risk factors triggered while on food sensitivity. We are discussing some of them below.
If a person has asthma, allergies, eczema genetically then they have a high risk of suffering from food sensitivity.
A person who has family history of such diseases should take extra care of themselves so that they do not get affected by food sensitivity. One should try to maintain their health if they have this hereditary disease.
In children food sensitivity are more common. Especially children who are within the age of 6-10 days. With time the digestive system of an individual develops and the body is more likely to absorb food.
As a result, allergies are not triggered. As a child grows, their body overcomes the allergies to specific food substances.
Asthma and food intolerance go hand in hand. They occur together due to similar reasons. Their signs and symptoms are also very similar.
Complications Caused Due to Food Sensitivity
- Anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening allergic reaction
- Eczema or atopic dermatitis which is a skin reaction caused due to specific food substances.
Treatment of Phlegm Formation
One can get instant treatment to reduce the phlegm formation. Most of these are home remedies. The treatment is mentioned below:
- One should take antacids if they are a gastric patient.
- They should avoid the food they are sensitive or allergic to.
- They should not intake the food their body can not digest and absorb.
- Even after taking symptomatic treatment if the discomfort id not relieved then they should consult a doctor
Does food habit affects phlegm formation?
Yes, food habits does have a huge effect on phlegm formation. For example, oily and fatty food causes increased production of phlegm. Intake of sufficient amount of water after meals reduces the production of phlegm and clears your throat.
Can spicy food trigger the production of phlegm?
Answer: In general spicy food triggers the production of mucus in both mouth and nose. A person experiences mucus cough and phlegmy throat after intake of spicy foods. It also gives arise to nasal symptoms such as dripping of nasal mucus nad congestion.
So, spicy and hot food does trigger phlegm production.
What is silent reflux?
Silent reflux also increases the phlegm production after intake of food. It is also known as laryngopharyngeal reflux. This is a condition that is characterized by the backflow of the stomach acid contents back into the esophagus into the larynx and throat. This causes cough reflex and burning of the chest.
If you are worried about why do you get phlegm after eating then there is nothing to stress about.
It is a very common phenomenon for one to face excessive phlegm production after the intake of food. It is caused due to very simple and easily treatable reasons One can get instant relief by taking symptomatic treatment and medications.
Just maintain a healthy and balanced diet and you would be good to go.