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Why Does Ice Cream Make Me Cough?

Ice cream is a common refreshment enjoyed by many during the summertime. However, it appears that not everyone enjoys ice cream without side effects.

Many people report that after eating ice cream they experience a sensation similar to coughing. This condition, called ice cream cough, is not well understood and the reason for this strange symptom have yet to be discovered.

What type of food is ice cream?

Ice cream is an ice-based dessert, usually made from milk and cream, which is frozen to a texture similar to soft serve. There are many kinds of ice cream flavors. Some of the most popular types include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and Rocky Road.

Why does ice cream make me cough?

A sudden tightening of the muscles that line the airways can be a sudden tightening of muscles in the throat, which is known as bronchospasm and results in coughing or tightness around the chest — this occurs because of inflammation reaction to acid irritant present in the ice cream. Liquids need to vaporize during the respiratory process.

This is called evaporative cooling. Ice cream has a high water content, which causes it to melt rapidly when it enters the mouth. When its temperature falls below body temperature, this causes air to form in the tissue of the mouth and throat, causing people to cough.

The science behind the ice cream cough The phenomenon of the “ice cream cough” occurs when eating ice cream too quickly induces an irritant to the throat, causing the coughing reflex.

The condition is caused by a quick drop in temperature exceeding -3°C, which changes the respiratory tract lining’s cell permeability. This change in permeability causes excess fluid to leak into the respiratory system, inducing cough.

Why does ice cream make me sneeze?

Exposure to the cold and the foreign proteins in ice cream stimulates the nasal passages to contract and produce a sneeze.

The contraction of these muscles also results in a narrowing of the nasal passage, which is why we feel like we cannot breathe when we sneeze. Sneezing after eating ice cream can also be caused by an allergic reaction, which is often triggered by ice cream.

This type of reaction happens when your body detects that the ice cream has a certain allergen – like nuts or dairy products – that it’s allergic to. If this occurs, your body releases histamine that hastens your sneezing response.

What are the side effects caused by eating ice cream?

After eating ice cream, many people report a sensation of coughing. This phenomenon has not been positively linked to the ingredients in ice cream that cause an after-eating cough, but it is known to be caused by airflow being restricted within the throat cavity (this condition may occur as severe allergic reactions with other vegetables).

Some individuals develop multiple episodes of motion sickness called seasickness during which they have trouble standing or walking due to nausea.

Other common side effects include: Upset stomach Headaches Muscle trembling or irritability Asthma Skin rash Stomach Dizziness, Nausea and vomiting Muscle cramps Indigestion Loss of appetite Migraine headache Blurred vision Worsened breathing disorders Bruising Dry mouth Yellow skin/eyes Decreased mental alertness In children, abdominal pain Irregular heartbeat

What are the healthy alternatives to ice cream?

Many people enjoy ice cream as a summertime treat, but it should be consumed in moderation and as a substitute for other foods.

A variety of healthy alternatives exist that can provide the same sweet fix without the worry of added sugar and fats.

Sorbet is one of the best alternatives to ice cream. It’s just as creamy and delicious, but it contains no dairy products or added sugar!

one cup of sorbet in a plate

The secret: honey is a sweetener because in this case, less is more. Sorbet can be made with fresh fruit – strawberries are very cooling while mangoes make an excellent choice during summer months (which means pretty much all Summer!).

Sorbet is excellent for munching with your favorite fruit or infused in brownies and other desserts along with fresh fruit slices!

Is eating ice cream bad for your health?

No. Many reasonable health experts agree that it is healthy to enjoy moderate amounts of ice cream, however, the most common adverse effects are caused by eating too much at one time and food additives especially when using artificial colors as well as bad quality toppings or flavor enhancers.

Some do admit basing their opinion on myth and legend such as this media perpetuated thought that your body will become calcium deficient if you don’t eat dairy products; which is not true.


In conclusion, with a little bit of extra effort and preparation, you can enjoy all your favorite iced treats without the coughing that comes with eating ice cream. –

  • Make sure to try frozen yogurt instead for a creamy feel, but also thinner consistency.
  • Use a spoon if necessary to prevent inhaling the dessert too quickly.
  • If you have a dairy allergy or prefer vegan desserts, sorbet is a great alternative.

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Nutritionist & Blogger, Passionate about writing health related articles. Read more about her.

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