Why Does Ice Cream Make Me Cough : Causes & Solutions

Why Does Ice Cream Make Me Cough 

You’re sitting down to enjoy an ice cream cone on a warm summer night, and all of the sudden you start to cough uncontrollably. What gives? Why does ice cream make you cough? Believe it or not, this isn’t an uncommon side effect of eating ice cream, and scientists have done some research to figure out why it happens. 

Below, we break down what happens in your body when you eat cold foods like ice cream that can lead to coughing fits and provide some simple steps you can take before indulging to help minimize the likelihood of having this happen to you.

Ice Cream Is Cold

One of the side effects of ice cream is that it can make you cough. This happens because the coldness of the ice cream triggers a reflex in your throat, which makes you cough. The reflex causes an involuntary reaction to what feels like something stuck in your throat and not letting go.

The coughing forces the object to be pushed out by gasps for air. In most cases, this feeling passes quickly and people stop coughing after they’ve had some water or taken a drink from their cup. 


Many people who have a dairy allergy also have trouble eating ice cream. This is because the proteins in milk, which are also found in ice cream, can sometimes cause an allergic reaction. The reaction can be anything from hives to full-blown anaphylaxis. If you’re allergic to milk and you start feeling congested or notice that your throat starts itching when you eat ice cream, try cutting out dairy for a few days and see if your symptoms go away. It’s always worth seeing a doctor about any food allergy as well. 

Dairy allergies can make it hard to digest certain foods like beans, cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt and soy products. Dairy products may also contain additives that make the body react more strongly to them such as artificial colors, flavors or sugars.


The most common cause for coughing after taking ice cream is due to asthma. When the respiratory tract is irritated, the airways swell and become inflamed, causing narrowing of the airways. This makes it difficult to breathe and can lead to wheezing and coughing.  If you experience these symptoms after eating ice cream, you may want to speak with your doctor about whether or not you have a food allergy that triggers an allergic response in your lungs. 

There are many types of allergies out there, but some foods such as eggs and nuts are more likely than others to trigger an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that people who are experiencing difficulty breathing from any other reason (such as bronchitis) should seek immediate medical attention.

Hard Mucus

Mucus is a viscous fluid that is secreted by the mucous membranes of the nose and airways in the respiratory system. Mucus is made up of water, electrolytes, and glycoproteins that protect the body’s tissues from infection. When people experience coughing as they eat ice cream, it’s because they are swallowing excess air which can cause a build-up of mucus in the throat. It’s not uncommon for cold or sinus sufferers to have issues with coughing when eating ice cream, since those illnesses often lead to nasal congestion and make it difficult to breathe through the mouth. 

Some people even have a more serious medical condition like bronchitis or asthma that causes them to cough when eating cold things such as ice cream.


The most common reason for a person to cough after eating ice cream is that they have an acute case of bronchospasm. Bronchospasm is when the muscles surrounding the airway spasm and cause the vocal cords to close up. 

This prevents air from flowing in or out of the lungs, which can lead to a coughing reflex. The spasming of these muscles can also lead to other symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and/or difficulty breathing. 

In order to help alleviate these symptoms, try talking with your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medication like Benadryl or Singulair.

Throat Infection

If you cough as a result of taking ice cream, it may be as a result of throat infection. A throat infection is one of the most common types of upper respiratory tract infections. These infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi and are usually caught from the people you come in contact with.  A viral throat infection is often more mild than a bacterial infection but they both have similar symptoms, including coughing and difficulty swallowing. While these infections will get better on their own, it’s important to see your doctor if symptoms worsen or don’t improve within 3 weeks. 

The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, which will help the body fight off the germs that cause these types of infections. 

They may also prescribe an anti-viral medication for some viral strains if needed. Drinking lots of fluids and getting enough rest are also important during this time to keep your body as healthy as possible!


There are many different causes of an ice cream cough. One of the most common is a cold or allergy that causes inflammation in the throat or airways, making it difficult to breathe and swallow at the same time. 

This can cause coughing and sneezing when eating cold food. Another potential cause is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which is caused by stomach acid escaping up into the esophagus and irritating it.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *