Coughing after eating in Denver
September 21, 2007 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Lung congestion after eating, why now?

I moved to Denver earlier this summer and I now notice a lot of lung congestion after I eat. Even a small meal makes me have to cough. Is it from the elevation? I didn't have the problem when I was back in Portland for a week so I don't think it's acid reflux, unless that is affected by elevation. I guess this sort of worries me because I do not have insurance and because i was a 2 pack a day smoker for 15 years until quitting about 4 years ago. Anyone else have this problem in higher elevations or know what it is?
posted by yodelingisfun to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That happens to me, too. I wouldn't characterize it as 'a lot,' though.

Honestly, I thought it happened to everyone, as there always seems to be coughing and throat-clearing all around after meals. Then again, I'm a smoker and so is almost everyone I know.

I would not have thought that elevation was involved, but I'm wrong quite frequently, so for your reference: the elevation in my area is ~1000' above sea level and I am a ten-year smoker.
posted by zebra3 at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2007

It could be food allergies.
posted by rbs at 10:45 AM on September 21, 2007

Elevation - No
Cough after eating – Yes

Yup me too! It seems to be after more greasy food. Does it happen when you eat salad/ healthier? Even when not entirely “bad” I may get it a little with less greasy foods. I guess it is nature teloing me “eat better”.
posted by doorsfan at 10:46 AM on September 21, 2007

Food allergy is a possibility.

The other possibility is that the dry air at elevation reduces your phlegm production. When you eat/drink you'll notice a slight increase in phlegm. This could be a sign that you're slightly dehydrated (not a big worry) and should just need to drink more water.
posted by randomstriker at 11:03 AM on September 21, 2007

After eating anything especially fatty---steaks, burgers, ice cream, girlfriend pretty well can't breathe for about 30 minutes.

I believe it has something to do w/ asthma triggers, but I'm not sure.
posted by TomMelee at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2007

I get that after eating dairy.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:23 AM on September 21, 2007

I get phlegmmy/coughy after eating Mexican. It has always puzzled me. I'm at relatively low altitude.
posted by kookoobirdz at 11:23 AM on September 21, 2007

Hrm, I get that too, especially after Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese food. Although I am asthmatic, it never dawned on me that it might be food allergies. I've never smoked a cig in my life, btw.
posted by Tacodog at 12:08 PM on September 21, 2007

I think a mild bit of this is somewhat common, although if it is bad it might be reflux. Perhaps stress associated with moving has made mild reflux which does not present any heartburn symptoms worse. One way to tell might be to get some over the counter reflux medicine and see if it makes any difference. The dry air could also have an effect.

Most concerning is your statement that you are a former smoker, only recently quit, and have no health insurance. It is a persistent issue in our country but a lack of insurance can block access to needed care if you get sick especially if you get lung cancer. Obtaining insurance should be a top priority. It might mean changing jobs to one with benefits or buying private insurance. There are some plans, like the Golden Rule, which provide catastrophic coverage. They feature a high annual deductible, but may save your life if you develop a serious illness or are seriously injured.
posted by caddis at 1:11 PM on September 21, 2007

I'll add to this and say I've experienced this as well, though I would say it was never "a lot" and it was mostly in the throat, not the lungs. I was never able to attribute it directly to one type of food over another.. it lasted about a year or two and has since gone away, mostly. I always guessed it was some sort of mild allergy.
posted by mbatch at 2:53 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: Well yeah insurance would be good but it's just not going to happen right now. I guess I wouldn't worry so much if it were just in my throat but it's my lungs that get all congested. Oh and since moving here, I drink at least 5 liter of water a day, it SO dry and I'm always thirsty. I guess I'm probably fine...
posted by yodelingisfun at 5:02 PM on September 21, 2007

Well yeah insurance would be good but it's just not going to happen right now.

Why not? Do you want more clothes, electronics? That would be foolish. So many people say I can not afford this, but what it really means is I don't want to give up my luxuries, my one night a week eating out, etc. and then they get cancer, and die. Don't let that be you.
posted by caddis at 6:15 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: I understand Caddis, I really do but at this point I'm a full time nursing student working as much as i physically can in a new city where i know no one and I sincerely do not have enough money to buy food none the less insurance. Yet. But, in a year everything will, hopefully, change and I'll be an RN with a lot more financial options. So really I WISH the choice were between new electrocis or insurance but there is legitimately no way for me to afford it right now, heirachy of needs and all that.
posted by yodelingisfun at 6:50 PM on September 21, 2007

A pediatrician once told me, in the context of an asthmatic child, "It's an old wives' tale that 'milk makes phlegm', but on some people it's true." On this kid, she could get away with it if not actively having an attack or down with something respiratory and likely to go asthmatic, but I've seen kids that couldn't ever handle dairy. The doctor said at the time that tolerances vary wildly from person to person.
It might be worth noticing how much dairy is involved with the meal. Or maybe you're one those people who drink milk with meals? Just a thought. (You don't have to be asthmatic to get gunky from milk; it's just easier to notice on them because of the smaller bronchi.) It seems possible the altitude might make a difference in how much you notice it.
I got nothing, but thought I'd throw that out. You can get more sensitive after childhood, even without a history of it.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:06 PM on September 22, 2007

« Older Someone wants to buy a domain name I own that I'm...   |   Where to camp in the Catskills? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.