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Excessive phlegm or Saliva after Eating/Drinking

I am a 23 year old and I have had excessive phlegm or saliva every time after I eat or drink anything from the time I was about 10-11 years old. It always causes me to produce a "wet" cough (just one) after I eat or drink anything to clear my throat and then several times of just clearing my throat without coughing for roughly 30 minutes. There is no stopping the cough unless I want to choke on the mucus. The excessive mucus affects my voice as well and is really annoying and extremely embarrassing. Everyone always thinks I have some kind of horrible cold if I eat around them, which makes me not want to. I have never met anyone else with this going on with them so I don't know where to begin to seek help. I don't have heartburn, I don't smoke, I don't work around harsh chemicals all day, I've lived in 3 different states (WA, FL, NM) in many different cities in the suburbs and urban areas and no matter where I have lived the problem remains which makes me think it's not environmentally related or climate related. Does anyone out there suffer from this and know what it is and how it can be treated if that is even possible?

This discussion is related to Excessive coughing/mucus after eating.
64 Responses
Avatar universal
Your problem is not unusual on this forum.  You can also search the Ear Nose Throat forum for similar sufferers.

One of the possible causes is an endocrine imbalance, and the release of insulin after a meal creates excess mucus.  It's more common in people whose belly measurement is greater than their waist measurement, but not necessarily. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein has written some excellent books on this subject
Avatar universal
I tried googling Dr. Diana Schwarzbein and found some articles about hormone imbalance and cortisol levels but nothing really touching on the mucus/sore throat problem.  Do you have any further information on this?

I suffer the same as the original poster mentioned, I also have a distended stomach.  I am not overweight and have had success gaining and losing weight but my belly always sticks out no matter what weight I am at.

I have had tonsillectomy, taken a number of PPI's, antihistamines, nasal steroids, ive fasted, tried numerous diets (no wheat, dairy, processed foods, etc) NOTHING has helped.  I would like to look into this hormone imbalance further since it's something i haven't heard of yet.

I would greatly greatly appreciate any further information you have on this

Avatar universal
I am intrigued that there are many threads on this filled with people, yet no solutions.

Hopefully, as this is the most recent I could find, people will find what I have to say:

I suffered from the symptoms of coughing/spitting mucus after eating and a froggy voice for a few years after turning 14. It then intensified and encompassed chronic nasal congestion/sinus pressure and painful coughing. I acquired horrible "asthma." This continued for six months until I went on an elimination diet.

While I could discriminate no offending foods before the elimination diet, it quickly became apparent that processed commercial sweets evoked nasty episodes. Soon after, I realized that all fruit aggravated my condition. Currently, commercial sweets and most fruits nauseate me because I have been able to associate them with my reactions.

More recently, I have found that any carbohydrate (fruit, vegetable or sugar) has the potential to do me harm. Some, like brown rice, plain pasta and leafy greens, almost never provoke symptoms. Others, like pineapple, onion and milk/lactose are consistently troublesome. A rule of thumb is the more sugar, the worse. This does not always hold true, however, especially with regard to breakfast cereals (limit them -- I snack on them rarely WITHOUT milk). I presume it has to do with the glycemic index of food.

This took a particularly long time to understand most likely because of fat content. Most sugary treats I ate for a long time, like cookies, seemed fairly innocuous relative to fruits (I had a freak reaction when I introduced my first fruit -- strawberries -- after starting my elimination diet and have been unwilling to eat them since). The truth, in all likelihood, is that the fat from the butter slowed absorption of the sugar in baked goods, while fruits are fat free and thus much more easily absorbed.

The only possible explanation I can offer is that it is a form of chronic infection that for whatever reason resists the individual's immune system, and that ingesting sugar feeds the bacteria. Switching to a mid-fat, high protein, minimal sugar (absolutely no fruits or milk; cheese/sour cream acceptable; avoid tomato and carrots), reduced carbohydrate (don't binge on rice, avoid most bread (read the label for sugar)). Watch out for cured meats that introduce undesirable sugar.

Whether this will help others, I cannot say, but it is the only thing that has made a considerable difference for me, and it is entirely necessary at this point (I go loopy if I eat too much sugar). I will continue looking for a more specific answer.
Get tested for H_Pylori in the gut ....if you have it take the antibotic prescribed and when done go back to the doctor & get tested again....it is sometimes very hard to get rid of.   Also, take a probotic everyday and drink 100% sugar free blend of Cranberry Juice.  Has been very helpful.
1747390 tn?1311603873
I am suffering from the same symptoms for about 15 years now and it is getting worse. I have been to several specialists and they have ruled out asthma, reflux and allergies.
Although I have been tested negative for allergies I have noticed that chocolate and fat (mayonaise, fries, salami) are causing me to cough more so I try to avoid them.
I am glad to have found people with similar problems because I really want to get rid of this coughing. It is so exhausting and irritating for other people.
I will try what Octavios has suggested, but has anyone else since found a definite solution to this problem? Please let me know!
Beta blockers cause mucus.Metoprolol  tartrate. I found out they reducing me know to ween me off.
Avatar universal
hi i have  the same issues as everyone else and i have tried all known western medicine. i have started trying chinese medicine and it has helped. if anyone would want to know what herbs to take , u can message me.  there are also exercises you can do to help also.  I can also explain it to you from a chinese medicine perspective if you would like.  

I've struggled with this for years and i can finally have some relief!!
Avatar universal
I am a 29 yr old female with same problem of overwhelming mucus after eating and upon awakening.  It's hard to remember not dealing with it, probably ~7yrs now.  No alergies, asthma, or heartburn.  Dr thought I might have LPR (type of reflux without heartburn) but, Nexium did not help.  Others who have LPR report Nexium helps so, probably not a correct diagnosis.  Mucus definitely comes from lungs/lung airway and not from stomach.  Wheezing and cough are often present concurrently.

Octavios offers very good insight into the diet aspect of controlling it.  I have been on very strict diet- mid-fat, high protein, low complex carb, no yeast (includes yeast extract which is in almost everything packaged), no sugar (Stevia only), and gluten free.  
Natural remedies such as coconut oil (ONLY organic extra virgin), garlic (I use odorless gel caps), and daily glass of water with 1 TBS apple cider vinegar (can only reccommend unfiltered Braggs) all help.  I did go through a couple choking episodes when first starting Coconut oil but, they subsided.  I thought I might be allergic but, looking back, it was a reaction that showed it was effective.  
Nothing, though, is more important than staying away from simple carbohydrates, yeast, and sugar.  If I slip up on my diet and eat something sugary, symptoms come back within minutes if not seconds of it going down my throat; although not as severe as before I changed my diet.  
As for the cause, I can tell you that I have showed positive blood test results for a mycoplasma species (Dr. not sure which one).  If you've never heard about mycoplasma you can google and find out all kinds of good info.  There are many strains of mycoplasma but, Mycoplasma pneumonia is the most common, presents as a respiratory infection, and can spread elsewhere if not treated.  Some would argue that these symptoms are a result of yeast overgrowth, more particularly, Candida species.  I personnally tested negative for all candida species.

Post other symptoms if you have any such as stiff neck, bloating, itchy scalp, post nasal drip, random coughing, acne, nasal congestion, trouble inflating or pain in lungs, headache, jaw stiffness or pain, or anything else you think may or may not be worth mentioning.

Prescription medications that have helped me with these symptoms are Diflucan & Septra.
Avatar universal
This is so depressing.I did not realize how many people have this same problem.  My mouth and throat feel terrible after these episodes.  I don't like going out to eat anymore and it is embarrasssing at work and at church.  From what I hear, there really isn't a cure.  
Avatar universal
I have the same problem with phlegm after eating/drinking, and I don't get any burning feeling associated with acid reflux. Sometimes excessive phlegm occurs after consuming fatty or creamy food; however it will absolutely happen when greasy food is combined with a cold drink in a social setting - the slightest anxiety about getting that horrid-sounding phlegm cough seems to constrict the chest and make it even more certain to happen.

I have found a solution that works for me - a cup of unflavored hot strong tea that clears the grease from my throat. I either avoid eating greasy food in company, or eat moderate amounts combined with hot tea. Hot tea also helps soothe anxiety. I did have to experiment with the amount of greasy food I can tolerate with the help of tea, but it's been worth it - I am now confident of not getting the dreaded phlegm when eating with other people.
Avatar universal
I have had this sort of problem since a couple of bouts of trauma and was put on PPI's for the docs verdict of Gastritis. This made my symptoms worse so came off of those after a month. I now have the problem of excessive acid after drinking. Especially water it seems. Can this also be caused by trapped wind?
757137 tn?1347196453
This phenomenon could be caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans. This overgrowth can be caused by a diet heavy in sugars and starches, by antibiotics, by prednisone, or by inhaled steroids.
Allmy..I have just started Symbicort and it seem to help been on it 10 days.I have this for years and it gets very bad.
Avatar universal
Do you know where I can learn more about your response?
Avatar universal
It's MSG.  Research MSG and all the aliases by which it is permitted to be called.  I wrestled with this for years before figuring out what it was, and of course I still do because it is so hard to avoid the stuff.  Just got back from lunch and I'm coughing and throat clearing like crazy, but it's the first time in several days.  

There are short term and long term aspects to this - 20min to an hour after I get a dose I start with the coughing, and it lasts an hour or so.  But if I've been exposed to it regularly then I am much more sensitive, to the point of coughing all the time.  OTOH, if I've stayed away from it then a small exposure is not much of a problem.  Cut out spices, flavoring, natural flavors, hydrolyzed anything, malt anything, seasonings, etc. for a few days and see how you feel.
Avatar universal
Hi Gary, I'd like to know, I've had the coughing up phlegm after eating for the last two years, I don't drink alcohol or smoke and no doctor can fix it either. They just give me drugs that affect other parts of my body so I won't take anything now. Do you have a natural remedy. I'd like to know as would many other sufferers out there.
4247534 tn?1351663535
i am alicia , i am 27  and i have had this for quite a few yr.'s now myself. i didnt notice how many other people suffer from it. it just is very bothersome for the fact i can not eat and be normal like other people afterwards. i will have to be exscused and go strait to the restroom so i can get that stuff out. when itcomes to me i do have athsma, allergies, post nasil drip,and am a big gurl but in the prosses of loosing it so am happy for my self, when it comes to that. but enough about me iam sry that this happens to all of you all to becaus i know the feeling but if anyone knows what it is calledor wat i can do to learn more about it please let me know
Avatar universal
I am interested in chinese herbs. Please send me the protocol so i can use.  I"ve been suffering for 4 years.   Thanks!
Avatar universal
Not necessarily. I am very careful about not ingesting MSG for years now and I still have the same symptoms.
Avatar universal
While the following is no way to live, it is a short term solution... I have done the lemonaid fast (the one with maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lots of lemons) a few times in the past. After a few days, the body seems to clean out the mucus. Now granted, most people do not have an issue with mucus from those ingredients. But afterward I seem to be fine.. until, that is, I start to go back to a more inclusive diet. The fast can be difficult (and definetly not a good way to lose weight) but it is nice to have a break from all the clearing of the throat.
Avatar universal
Please let me know about the chinese herbs.
Avatar universal
Please do share what herbs you use! I have the same problem to where I cough up mucus and it either comes out when it wants or I have to force it out.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your detailed response.  What you shared, along with what the original respondent offered seem to agree with other information I've read.

The issue seems to be related to blood-sugar. Processed carbohydrates such as sugar, bread, potatoes, etc produce a response which includes excessive phlegm/mucous.

I imagine people with borderline or type-ii diabetes will have this problem more than others because of the compromised metabolization of carbs and sugars.

I have this issues too and plan to try to use a diabetics' diet to see if it goes away.
Avatar universal
Please do send info on what has been effective for you.  
Thank you.  Cherise
Avatar universal
I think a leaky soft palate could be the problem. The soft palate seals to keep food out of your nose when you swallow - it's like the epiglottis in a way, except the epiglottis keeps food out of your lungs.  Search on "Velopharyngeal Insufficiency".  
Avatar universal
I am 28 yo and have been noticing the same problem- one, single, wet cough after eating a meal. The bigger the meal, the bigger the cough. I am normal body weight and exercise 2 hours daily- I definitely don't have diabetes/metabolic syndrome.

I have studied medicine for many years. This is my conclusion: I spend most of the day at a desk and the bottom parts of my lungs (alveoli) collapse, as I don't expand my chest enough or ventilate it. When I have a big meal (I tend to have massive meals after exercising), the pressure of my full stomach pushes against the lower part of my lungs and "clears" the collapsed airways that have built up mucus throughout the day. I have come to this conclusion because this wet cough can sometimes occur when I am exercising (thus ventilating fully).

I may be wrong, but I think it's a lot simpler than the complex actions of sugars/insulin on mucus secretion, or a longstanding candida overgrowth and even less likely mycoplasma infection- it's a mechanical problem. Of course if you have diabetes and are overweight there may be a GERD component to it, but that's a different pathology. Asthma/postnasal drip will also be contributing in different ways.

If this is true then loosing weight, exercising frequently (aerobic full ventilation) and eating small frequent meals should do the trick. this will also help with diabetes and everything else...
I'm going to buy a posture support back brace to keep my chest straight. Maybe that helps during office hours.
7837097 tn?1394622509
What kind of foods are ok then? It seems like I can't eat anything without the phlem wanting to come up! I was told I had GERD.
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