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cough only after drinking water

Im a  56 year old female, For about six months now I cough only after I drink water. It is worse at night or in the mornings. The doctor have tried antibiotics , nasal sprays and losengers for yeast. The ENT dr. The primary doctor and the upper GI Dr. do not know what is causing it. I have no trouble swallowing the water. But as son as I do i start to cough. Sometimes I do not stop until I throw up alot of clear mucas or drink milk or sode or eat something. Anything that will caot my throat and help me to stop the cough. This will happen day or night. I prefer to drink water. But it is hard to deal with the cough afterwards. I do have acid reflux and will go back this mont to see that doctor. My PCP says that it is all in my head because he does not know what is doing it. There is a real problem here please do not tell me it is all in my head.
It does not matter if it is cold or room temperature. Coco made with water doen not have the same affect. Milk or juiced or soda are all fine. It is like a caoting is washed away by the water leaving my throat expossed to irratation. HELP i need a Dr wHo has some experiance with this, I know I'm not the only person that has had THIS PROBLEM. Kit

This discussion is related to heavy Cough after drinking water.
27 Responses
Avatar universal
I am 45 years old and have been experiencing the same exact symptoms you describe.  No one seems to have an answer, but I know it is real.  Cold water is the worse for me.  Once I drink it, I gag like crazy and almost vomit.  Mines started when I had a serious brochial infection, which I caught a nasty cold from my grandson when he was two.  Whatever bacteria I was exposed to, it wiped me out, and my respiratory system has not been the same since.  Sometimes decongestants and expectorants help clear up any phlem or mucous, but I would prefer a more healthy approach.  I hope we can find an answer, or at best, I hope research is done as more people share their stories.  Thank you for sharing yours.  

Coughing too much
Avatar universal
I am 24 and I have been having this problem among other triggers. It happens when I drink or eat something very cold, or when I exorcise or after I laugh really hard. Allergist says it is asthma and albuterol inhaler helped for a while but no longer effective. Also have upper intercostal muscle aches that I originally tied to sleeping on my side. I have neck and back pain and am soon to start seeing a chiropractor when I get a chance. I'm worried though because I have so much trouble breathing when I get these symptoms and also stress seems to be a trigger. Any help would be a blessing.
Avatar universal
I noticed that these posts are a couple years old, and I am having the exact same problem, to the T, and am desperate for help/answers. Have any of you gotten any help or answers or improvement for your conditions?

I am 24 (and never smoked), and ever since I got pneumonia and bronchitis over 3 years ago (with coughing so bad I got internal bleeding!), I have NOT been able to get rid of this cough. It is definitely the worst at night, in the AM, and after exercise (also stressful situations appears to have some impact, though seemingly minimal and infrequently) when I am drinking water (and flavored water, etc.). The problem still usually occurs with other beverages, such as carbonated ones, milk, etc., but is not anywhere near as severe/violent. It is awful because water is the best thing to drink on a regular basis, but the coughing irritates your throat and makes you feel kind of dry, but you can't keep drinking the water! I have to find something else to drink or something to take a few bites off (yogurt seems to be one of the best things for me) until the coughing dies down. When I drink water, I cough until either a bunch of clear mucous is coughed up, or I cough so hard that I vomit up the clear mucous and the water. It has literally been ruining my life, I am a nursing student and my education/career are in jeopardy because of this! Not to mention it is embarrassing to go out in public and be looked at like I am contagious and have no business being out near people.

I have been to my PCP several times, who tested me for infection and did a lung x-ray (all of which have always been negative), but put me on a ten-day antibiotic treatment and syrup with codeine on the off chance that it was an infection that just wasn't picked up for some reason. The syrup only served to at least help me get some sleep, and the antibiotics did no good because it is not an infection. I saw a pulmonologist, who said that it had to be because of asthma and kept messing around with different long-acting inhalers and albuterol for me to try; he became frustrated and put me on an extremely high, one-month dose of prednisone, thinking that the airways must be so irritated that prednisone was needed. End result: About 50 pound weight gain (135 to 185!!) and no luck with the cough. GI doctor: acid reflux/GERD diagnosis, prescribed daily omeprazole and tums as needed - no effect on coughing problem. Allergist - the pneumonia/bronchitis wiped out my immune system and I am now testing positive to allergies for nearly everything, has tried me on 3 different types of allergy pills and I have been getting immunity shots twice a week for a year - no impact on the violent cough and mucous spit up from drinking water. The part about water being the primary trigger always results in the classic "it's all in your head/anxiety" response. Therefore, I ended up at a psychiatrist's office as a last resort, who didn't think I had an anxiety disorder but knew I was desperate to try anything that could possibly be left as a potential cause/treatment, so he prescribed me 1.5 mg of Ativan per day. Again, no effect - definitely NOT in all of our heads. The part that is really frustrating is that they keep saying it must be a psychological thing and then sending me away when what they try doesn't work, but there HAS to be a connection to the pneumonia/bronchitis and something that changed in my body THEN because this was NEVER a problem until then, and has been every single day since I was sick. And how about the fact that there is constantly mucous being produced and spit up in response to water? And as was pointed out by quickcoughing697, Mucinex DOES seem to be the only thing to ever even temporarily or somewhat help at times, but it is definitely not something meant for lifetime use.

If anybody has figured anything out or gotten any help since posting, PLEASE let me know ASAP! I want my life back!

I wish the best to all of you suffering and sincerely hope that you have since found relief and associated peace in life. Thank you guys for sharing your stories, it is reassuring to know that I am not "crazy" and alone, as my doctors have all made it out to seem. If they can't figure something out, then it's best to blame the patient, I guess.
Did you took medication called benzonate before the cough related to water?
I took benzonate before mine started
Avatar universal
I experience heavy coughing when drinking water, usually ice water. After a cold this past winter I had a post-viral cough lasting about 3 weeks.  That's when I first noticed cold water causing me to feel a sharp tickle in my throat and have severe coughing.  My symptoms eventually got better, but I still was affected by water, but not as severely.

I caught another cold this summer, with cough being one of the symptoms. Since then the problem has returned where ice water causes serious coughing.  It is not psychological, it is definitely a physical reaction.  

It feels as though the water is washing away saliva, mucus, or some other type of coating that protects my throat.  That may not be logical, since other foods or drinks don't seem to have the same effect.  So I am wondering if the cold liquid is triggering a nerve or muscular reflex that leads to immediate irritation and coughing.

Another thought I had was that maybe the composition of the water, and especially the ice, has in it some kind of irritant.  What made me think of that is a memory of eating/drinking Ice Pops as a kid (those multi-colored sugary liquids sealed in plastic tubes that you freeze) and it having a similar effect of tickling my throat and making me cough.  I remember feeling as though the ice (and melted liquid) had micro-crystals that were piercing my throat, like tiny shards of broken glass.

Sounds nutty, but I think I'll see if Ice Pops have any link to coughing.  I might also go to an Ear, Nose Throat doctor to see if there's anything wrong with my throat.

if i could i would hve nerve in throat rmoved   docs think im nuts
Avatar universal
I am 33 and I have been experiencing the same thing. The doctor put me on antibiotics and a inhaler. Nothing seems to work. The only time I'm not coughing is when I'm drinking lemon, honey and a mint leaf. I can't even sleep at night because I'm always coughing. If its to cold I'm coughing. If I'm drinking something cold I cough. If I eat some thing cold I cough. I just wish I had answers. I just want it to stop.
Avatar universal
has anyone found any relief from this????
Avatar universal
have you or anyone else figured this out yet?
Avatar universal
It's most likely caused from your epiglottis being open when you are consuming liquids/foods. Such as a runner just ran a mile and they are out of breath. They then proceed to drink some water, and instantly start coughing. When you breath the epiglottis which controls your oxygen/breathing is open, it's a small flap of tissue in your esophagus. Think of your throat having two "tubes" one for air and the other for food. Sometimes if you perform an action too quickly the epiglottis isn't closed and you'll have a coughing fit. Of course milk coats your throat in mucus, so it makes everything rough in your throat. Milk actually is bad for you when it comes to that, but otherwise good calcium. The epiglottis prevents food and liquids from getting into your lungs, but sometimes you'll preform an action too quickly and then food/liquids do get into your longs. Remember the coating of mucus milk causes is bad. Especially when you have a sore throat or other throat related problems.
Avatar universal
It's most likely caused from your epiglottis being open when you are consuming liquids/foods. Such as a runner just ran a mile and they are out of breath. They then proceed to drink some water, and instantly start coughing. When you breath the epiglottis which controls your oxygen/breathing is open, it's a small flap of tissue in your esophagus. Think of your throat having two "tubes" one for air and the other for food. Sometimes if you perform an action too quickly the epiglottis isn't closed and you'll have a coughing fit. Of course milk coats your throat in mucus, so it makes everything rough in your throat. Milk actually is bad for you when it comes to that, but otherwise good calcium. The epiglottis prevents food and liquids from getting into your lungs, but sometimes you'll preform an action too quickly and then food/liquids do get into your longs. Remember the coating of mucus milk causes is bad. Especially when you have a sore throat or other throat related problems.
Avatar universal
this may seem silly but try adding 1 to 16 mix of red wine to water just enough to make it pink
Avatar universal
Omeprazole-induced intractable cough.


Other meds may also cause coughing.
Avatar universal
Have you gotten better?

I have the same problem, but have now gone off all water, except filtered water.  It's been about 2 weeks now and the coughing has stopped.  I'm so happy, but scared to drink any water but the bottled stuff. There's only one brand available and it's carbonated, which doesn't make me very happy, but not coughing has made a gigantic difference in how I feel!  To say the least, I'm overjoyed!

I have suffered with the coughing on and off for about 17 years, since moving to a place with hard water.  Is your water hard?

I'm sure it's the water now, but nobody in the medical community is taking me seriously.  :-(
I to suffer this very annoying cough after drinking cold water recently found if I don't drink any cold water Idon't cough but all of a sudden I have a bladder problem having a severely shrunken bladder whic my phisio says is from not drinking water she said to try it with a bit of cordial which Iwill try tomorrow she also said it could be the flap at the back of the throat may not be shutting off lungs but I don't understand why it only happens with water I wish you all the best and hope one of us will find a cure
Avatar universal
I would like to add that I have constantly been told it was reflux.  I've been on Omeprazole several times, but it didn't help at all.  In fact, I developed some stomach problems from the Omeprazole.  

I've been through asthma tests with no sign of asthma.  I've been tested for allergies, and have had lung x-rays.  I've also had a ct scan of my sinus and throat area.  Nothing was thought to be a cause of the cough.  

My symptoms are:

uncontrollable coughing attacks.  Usually dry and unproductive, and often until I start to gag and throw up.  The vomit is usually clear liquid mucous or watery.  My eyes usually start to water from all the coughing and then my nose starts to run.  Sometimes the attacks are violent and I am unable to talk or do anything but cough and cough.  Occasionally I start to sneeze.  Other times the attacks are more mild but still involuntary.  And finally, there are times when my through scratches and it feels like sandpaper or needles and I need to cough to try to relieve the sensation.
It also feels like the water strips the mucous off my throat, but ice cream has also been a problem.  I find that I am sensitive to strong scents and greasy air--if someone has fried something.  I also have had coughing attacks when getting into a car with a heater running.

Preparations for coughs do not help.  

The amazing thing is that after being off the water for the last two weeks nothing has made me start coughing.  I hope everyone else with this problem is feeling better, but if not, try drinking filtered water (not mineral water).

Good Luck!
Please can you give the brand name of this carbonated filtered water. Hopefully I can find it and hopefully it will help me also. Thank you.
Avatar universal
Try to change the type of water you are drinking and see if that makes a difference. I am 37 and I have started coughing episodes after drinking cold water within the last 2 months. I have noticed that it started after I started drinking Ozarka. So, last night, I changed to Fiji.

Prior to I was drinking Dasani water. My mother informed me that Dasani has salt (sodium).

The doctor has given me albuterol and steroid pills. Both were temporary relief and then the coughing came back.  I have to drink water to stay hydrated in the construciton industry. This morning I drank ice cold Fiji water and so far so good. I did have a little cough but not nearly as bad as in the mornings after drinking ice cold Ozarka.
Avatar universal
For me, it's definitely the water.  I moved to this area around 17/18 years ago and the cough started shortly after.  The water here is extremely hard.  At first I thought it was mold in the building where I worked.  I've suspected dust, perfumes, everything.  
The cough has made me miserable and it's affected my life quality of life in a very negative way.  
Now that I've started drinking this filtered water instead of tap water or bottled mineral water, the cough has disappeared.  
I've also tried asthma medicines and reflux medicines and other throat sprays, etc.  Nothing helped except drinking the filtered water.  
I called the company that puts out the water--it's danish and called Apollinaris,  and it is tapped in Denmark, but has a lower mineral content and is not labelled as mineral water because it lacks minerals.  
Avatar universal
omg I have had this issue for long time.  And no doctor has helped me.  On way to work this morning I coughed all way work and thru up all the water i drank to take my meds with.  I drink glass of city water before i go to bed and start coughing and feeling sick and at times throw up that flame / water.  critical lung dr, acid reflex dr, reg. dr , ent none have been able to help me.  good luck to all of us.
Avatar universal
   Yeah, uhhh, NO. Sorry bubs, but you are not paying attention. A key part here is that there is a sensation of tiny shards of glass perforating the back of the throat, or a sharp 'tickling' sensation, which are not things that would occur from the epiglottis being open.

   Thanks for you elementary anatomy lesson and detective work, though. As IF the people who have posted here didn't already know all of that. I just can't stand it when people talk staight outta their ***, as you have here. And to make it even worse, you did so with a smug sense of intellectual superiority, when the fact is you are an intellectual lightweight. If only your IQ was one-tenth the 'size' of your massively inflated ego.....
Hey truthseeker that was rude of you. He's posting his opinion as an offer of help to you and others.I would think kaddm has better things he could be doing. Grow up "bub."If anyone is acting superior it's you.You obviously have anger issues and chose strangers to place it on. I appreciate any opinions whether they are a fit or not.
Avatar universal
I am the same age 56 and am having the same problem.  Bad coughing after drinking ice water (never had this problem before).  It starts as a tickle cough then I cough up phlem.  I had bronchitis 8 weeks ago and still have this cough after it.  I was fine and hardly ever coughed before this bronchitis.  I have no allergies that I know of.  I live in a hot climate and need the ice water to keep cool. Hopefully it won't last forever, and I hope I haven't developed asthma.  The doc said I had a virus and an ear infection.  Had me on a 5 day Z-pac and mucinex which didn't seem to do anything.  If anyone has a similar problem, please post if it went away eventually.
Avatar universal
I'm glad Kaddm came here and posted that.  I was searching for the cause of this as well, and I had not thought of this very simple but entirely possible explanation.  Now that I think of it, I have as a matter of fact noticed that once in a while liquid goes down the wrong pipe more than it used to.  It makes sense that this could be happening without me being aware, especially if the liquid is cold and dulling my muscle control.  I will try being careful and see how I do.  Thank you
Avatar universal
I had that very cough for years (more than 15).  I finally figured out, quite accidently, if not the cause a large contributing factor.  After many years of being poked and prodded by allergy specialists, enough chest X-Rays to emit a pleasant glow, Asthma specialists experimenting with a plethora of inhalers, acid reflux…blah blah blah…all of the doctors specifically deny that my cough is triggered by LACTOSE.  They won’t test for it and tell me that it can’t happen.  However my cough went away for over two years.  It is back now due to a bout of bronchitis and some hidden milk that I was ingesting.  If you try this, it is important to note the following:
1. You must eliminate all sources of lactose.  This includes not just milk and soft cheese but hot dogs, bologna, potato chips (salt and vinegar are the worst), muffins.  Read your labels.  In  Canada the top 7 allergens must be listed separately in bold letters.  Look for contains milk or contains lactose
2. This will not clear up overnight.  While you may notice symptom improvement in a couple of days, your body reflex is accustomed to coughing and there may even be some throat damage which must heal before you stop coughing.  It took me about 2 months to completely stop.
3. Read about lactose intolerance…know what it is, what foods have it and more importantly why don’t other foods have it.  I am safe with cream in my coffee, cream cheese, butter, extra old cheddar, parmesan, whip cream. These items have little to no lactose.  Once you know why  you will be better equipped to make educated choices about what you are able to eat.
4. Learn the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy, also called casein allergy.  Milk solids allergy is very different from lactose intolerance.  A milk allergy means you must eliminate dairy, in any form regardless of whether there is lactose in it or not.  No yogurt, no butter, nothing made with casein.
I am now 1 month into my latest recovery and my cough is slowly subsiding again.  I am using Lacteeze to treat that feeling in my throat whether or not I am eating.  I find that the urge to cough disappears by taking Lactase Enzyme on prophylactic basis.  That “tickle” is the best way to describe it to someone that does not have the cough but it is not really a tickle.  In trying to describe it to people/doctors I mention that is feels like I have aspirated some water or that there feels like a different air pressure in my throat (see Hydrogen Breath Test for Lactose Intolerance).  
Just my two cents…although it looks more like a 50 cent response.
Avatar universal
Today is September 2016.  I see no one has responded with a solution to coughing when drinking ice water!  One friend said "don't drink ice water". Ha!  I experience the same thing and it's interesting that I also had pneumonia 10 months ago, have seen a lung Doctor, an ENT, as well as my PCP.  I have GERD too and all this started after I aspirated some food and liquid one night while coughing and throwing up because I ate too much, too late and went to bed in that condition.  Any help out there?
October 2 2016, found these posts when I was looking up my wierd problem. I am 56 yr. old, still recovering from a bad cold. never went to the doc. this cold was a bad one. the coughing has been the worst. and what I have noticed is that even if my cough has been a little quiet, if I drink water, I start to cough, and it goes on and on. it is a hard cough and will not stop until I cough up a not of foamy mostly clear mucus and eventually vomit the water I drank. I was diagnosed with Gerd a couple of years ago. and have been on meds for that. So...for some of us, BAD COLD or BRONCHITIS...WATER.... THROAT IRRITATION FROM GERD OR ACID REFLUX. COUGHING UP CLEAR MUCUS AS WELL AS THE WATER WE CONSUMED. the temp of the water doesn't seem to matter in my case, but I usually drink refrigerated water, but have been keeping water next to my bed for the coughing bouts, and that is usually air temp. still makes me cough. but I will have to pay attention to if its as bad as cold. this is not a problem i have EVER had before, and i drink tons of water daily. (filtered) so it definitely has something to do with the "cold" and perhaps the GERD. I have been using a Neti Pot to clean out my sinuses in an effort to reduce the mucus without using drugs. I also was getting some results from Mucinex but they were temporary and i didn't want to keep taking that every 4 hours. Pretty sad that the medical community is so out of touch with some real medical symptoms. If that can't prescribe a drug to fix it, it doesn't exist. My throat is raw from all the coughing. It's not like I can give up drinking water. I am going to keep using the Neti Pot and look for some other natural remedies to see if I can heal my throat that way. will post with progress. sorry so long
Came here because I am experiencing the same thing. I got a nasty sinus infection along with pink eye during the holidays. I am pretty sure I picked it up on the plane while traveling. Everything cleared up. However when I drink water now my throat gets gritty and I start to cough. No other drinks cause me to cough. I can drink tea, juice, even carbonated drinks. I have yet to see a reason for it. Like everyone else said it is as if water washes away a protective coating and leaves you raw.
I am 58 years old, I also have silent reflux. Lately I have been coughing after drinking water to the point of throwing up! I can eat anything and no problem, I can drink anything else with no problem but as soon as I drink water the coughing starts!!! I love water but I have sort of given up drinking it because of this problem.... I would also love some advice!!!

I am 58
I have been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis since late 2015. Recently I was coughing quite severely and this happens only at certain time of the day.
For me, I am quite sure what caused me to cough - post nasal drip, acid reflux to oesophagus and nasopharyngeal areas OR both.
1.post nasal drip happens because of my sinusitis - the tissues around the nose/ sinus becomes inflamed due to irritants surrounding and start to produce more mucus than normal. Antihistamine will help to treat the symptom only. I also researched on allergy and food intolerance and wanted to find out if I am affected by allergy or it is just the tissues are over sensitive. Recently I read someone had a good remedy taking Evening Primrose on sinus related issues. I am willing to try this instead of taking medicine long term as most medicine comes with other side effects.
2.   For my case, I used to have stomach reflux and a bloated stomach for many years. I am quite sure the recent coughing is due to the flow of acidic fluid to my throat area and nasopharyngeal areas. When this happen (silently) the tissues become inflamed. I also learnt the throat start to produce whitish clear mucus and as a result, the urge to cough/ purge out the mucus which is usually whitish. The nasal area can also get irritated - there are more articles on these which I recently become aware of  - read LP reflux on Youtube and there are suggested lifestyle changes on eating habits and sleeping habits. See one example below

When the “attack” comes I have tried to put some honey in my mouth I believe the honey helped to  “calm down” the throat and reduce the inflamation. I also try to eat early or not to overeat so that the stomach is not overloaded at about time to sleep. If the honey does not help, the last resort is to take cough syrup which will help me to sleep. When the cough reduces, it is important to get good nutrition to repair the damage done by the acid and heavy coughing and adjust lifestyle to reduce the risk of another acid reflux.
Avatar universal
Check the medicines you already take for side effects.  Some include coughing.  I also agree with the other folks whom mentioned eliminating dairy products (for a week or two) to see if that is it, as dairy causes phlegm which causes irritation and coughing.  Also closed houses, with heat or air conditioning can dry our mucous membranes, causing irritation and coughing.  Try using a humidifier or vaporizer in your bedroom for a while to see if that helps.  Sometimes we can tolerate one of these things, but when more than one is present it causes problems.  I also find if I eat hot food either somewhat spicy (not too hot unless you like it that way) or temperature wise a big lot of mucous will dislodge and I am clear and cough free for quite a while. I also find drinking hot tea (even when it has cooled) with honey helps during the periods of coughing.  Although I will try it without honey at bedtime tonight.  I do not have a runny nose, nor am I stuffy at all, it is all post nasal drip.  I'm working on this too and will update this if I find out anything more.
Whatever my original problem is it is gone now.  The coughing lasted about a year.  Perhaps it was some lingering symptom (or sensitivity) of a bad case of pneumonia I had for the month of March about 6 months before the coughing started.  I currently eat dairy and wheat.  The big problem for me was cold water, which made me cough most of all.  Cold juice or sweetened cold tea did not have that problem.  For that year I drank room temperature, or warm water, or tea.
I meant to say tea with honey
Avatar universal
Your drink tube and your breathing tube are probably conjoined and your brain not sending on the right signal
Avatar universal
I've had this same problem and experience sore throat but it's because I'm used to drinking spring water and when I have to settle for purified bottled water with added minerals or anything other than spring water, even tap, I get the same symptoms.I think it's the minerals in the water that settle in your throat create a mucus that when you swallow can cause you to cough just like mucus when you're sick. I dint know what water you're thinking but try Fiji or Evian spring water and see if there's a difference. If you don't cough then there's the problem. If you do then i don't know any better solution than to try alkaline water. That might work. Anything higher than 7.0 on the ph scale might help. Fiji is already at 7.5 and I think Evian is higher so it may really help.Hope this solves your problem.
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