Why cold water results in cough

Why cold water results in cough

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

I have a pretty simple question which always kept me intriguing since childhood and I couldn't find its precise answer yet. Why do we cough by cold water. Recently I had flu and found very strange correlation between cold water and coughing. Even seconds after drinking cold[er] water, I started coughing as you all would have experienced as well. So why does it happen?

I am no expert in this but I had asked my doctor the same question the last time I fell sick and I'll try to paraphrase his explanation. "There is this protective lining on our respiratory tract called "Respiratory Mucosa" that acts as the first line of defense against pathogens. But when you consume cold food and beverages , this membrane gets congested or shrinks such that it exposes the respiratory tract to pathogens . This is more prevalent if your body has an elevated temperature such as after spending a lot time outdoors during summer or after a workout. Cold food as such doesn't make you sick but they make it easier for the pathogens." A quick Google search turned up this Your cough could be a symptom of having a sore throat from infection.

Headache caused by drinking cold water is common and related to active migraine

The primary aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of cold-induced headache and to test if it is associated with migraine. Women attending a population-based mammography screening programme were asked to participate in the study. Fifty-one of 669 women (7.6%) experienced a headache after ingesting 150 ml of ice-cold water through a straw. Women who had experienced one or more migraine attacks in the last year (active migraine) were twice as likely to experience a headache from ingesting the cold water as women who had never suffered from migraine. Ninety-five women who had experienced their most recent migraine attack more than 1 year ago (inactive migraine) were not at increased risk. The prevalence of active and inactive migraine was 19.4 and 14.2%, respectively. Headache caused by drinking cold water is common in women. The results indicate that active migraine facilitates the perception of forehead pain induced by a cold palatal stimulus.

  • Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Try to breathe moist air. Use a humidifier or take a steamy shower.
  • Consume warm fluids (soup or tea) to provide relief for a stuffy nose and to loosen phlegm.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. If you cannot, ensure you are getting enough nutrients by taking a daily multivitamin.
  • Avoid dairy products, as they can thicken phlegm.
  • Avoid alcohol, as it impairs your body’s immune system.
  • High fever (Temperature > 101F for > 72 hrs)
  • Ear pain
  • Sinus-type headache
  • Unusually severe cold symptoms
  • Cough that gets worse while other cold symptoms improve
  • Flare up of any chronic lung problem, such as asthma
  • No improvement in symptoms for more than 10 days

Coughing and Wheezing in Cold Weather?

In cold weather, have you ever noticed that you wheeze, cough, or have shortness of breath, especially after some vigorous snow shoveling or other physical exertions? You don’t have to have chronic asthma to have these symptoms.

Most people with chronic asthma do ineed experience asthma symptoms such as difficultly breathing and chest-tighening when they exercise due to inflamed, narrowed airways.

What can cause breathing problems besides asthma?

This is a form of bronchoconstriction. Some medical experts prefer to call exercise-induced bronchoconstriction to distinguish it from chronic asthma. (Winter colds and other viruses may also be to blame.)

Causes of Bronchoconstriction

The culprit is simply frigid, dry air. The condition is common in athletes, but also affects a significant population (about 10 percent) of ordinary folks. The cold affects walkers (especially people who do not exercise often) and also winter shovelers.

Why? Your airways narrow as a result of physical exertion. The symptoms are brought on when you quickly breathe in air that is drier than what is already in your body, which causes a loss of heat, water, or both from your lungs. This dynamic becomes even more of a risk in cold weather because the air is dry.

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma generally begin within five to 20 minutes after the start of physical activity, and typically end after exercise has stopped.

How to avoid wheezing and coughing?

But when you want or need to head outside in cold weather for a stretch of physical activity or exertion, what precautions can you take?

  1. If you experience these symptoms, a good rule of thumb is avoid exercising when outdoor temps fall below 10 degrees.
  2. Warm up indoors. Ideally, spend 15 minutes of warm-up exercises, punctuated by several intervals of high-intensity movement (e.g., jumping jacks, jumping rope, fast spinning on an exercise bike) that gets you breathing hard for a minute or two between rests of equal or less duration.
  3. Walk, run, or exercise with with a scarf that covers your nose and mouth (or a face mask).

If you’ve never been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and notice asthma-like symptoms when you’re exercising outside, see your doctor.

Mechanisms of cold air effects in athletes

The respiratory system may be particularly affected by cold air exposure as inspired air has to be conditioned before participating in peripheral lung gas exchange, with an associated loss of heat and water. During exercise, a shift from nose to combined nose-and-mouth breathing takes place when the ventilation level exceeds approximately 30 l/min [7]. In such conditions, the possible trigger sites provoking respiratory symptoms include nasal mucosa, pharynx, larynx and the lower airways [6].

During physical exercises, nasal breathing quickly switches to mouth breathing, particularly at minute ventilations above 40 l/min, with the involvement of intrathoracic airways in this conditioning process [10].

Although exercising in cold air has minimal influence on the airways of normal individuals, it can induce a bronchoconstriction in asthmatic subjects and worsen airway obstruction in those with obstructive pulmonary diseases [11,12,13]. Winter athletes can be particularly affected by these environmental conditions, and an increased prevalence of airway hyperresponsiveness, asthma and chronic cough has been described in this population [14,15,16,17,18]. Bronchial biopsies of winter athletes have shown evidence of airway remodelling, possibly due to repeated cold-air and hyperventilation damage to the airways, although more research is needed on this influence on airway function [19, 20]. The mechanism of bronchoconstriction as a response to exercise-induced hyperpnoea, particularly in cold air, has been studied and appears primarily related to an increase in airway fluid osmolarity following hyperpnoea, although heat loss may be a modulator of this response, as well as a possible post-exercise “rewarming” of the airways [21].

Even in subjects without respiratory diseases, cold air can induce changes in the airways. Exposure to cold air can increase the number of granulocytes and macrophages in the lower airways [22]. Furthermore, cold-related impairment of respiratory mucociliary function can inhibit the clearance of pollutants [23]. Finally, in extreme cold temperatures, people tend to gather indoors and crowding can promote the transmission of infectious agents with ensuing airway inflammatory events.

Repeated cooling and drying of the airways are likely to take place in endurance athletes who frequently exercise at elevated ventilation levels. Indeed, a high prevalence of respiratory symptoms and airway hyperresponsiveness has been found in skiers, swimmers and long-distance runners. Studying the inflammatory infiltrate of the mucosa of the athletes with long and repeated exposure to cold air, identified a cell population different from asthma, with a greater number of neutrophils and a lesser number of eosinophils, mast cells and macrophages [22]: this further confirms that asthma and cold related diseases are two different entities, which, however, can influence each other.

4. Breathe in steam

Breathing in steam helps loosen nasal congestion. This will make blowing your nose easier and, if you're experiencing post-nasal drip, release built-up mucus in the throat. Because steam can moisturize a sore throat, it may also provide pain relief.

For temporary relief, try breathing in steam from a boiling pot of water. Once the water begins to produce steam, take it off the stove, and place your face above it. Drape a towel over your head to help trap the steam, but be careful not to get too close or you may burn yourself. You can also get a similar effect by taking a hot shower.

A humidifier may also be a good option to help keep your sinuses clear during the winter or if you live in a dry climate. Humidifiers add moisture to the air by emitting water vapor or steam into a room.

The size of your humidifier will determine how much area it will cover. McKnight says they usually only add enough moisture for one room, so it is best to keep it in a place where you spend the majority of your time, such as the bedroom.

If you do use a humidifier, be sure to change the water frequently and keep it clean so you don't accidentally end up spreading mold or bacteria around your home.


Fear of drowning as a mechanism that results in drowning is most often reported in the gray literature and social media. Several triathletes mention excessive panic, notably during the mass start of swimming. The panic is accompanied by complete inability to swim. The fear of drowning urges them to go back to shore or get attached to a buoy or lifeboat. Approximately 80% of triathlon deaths occur during the swim, and it is speculated that several drownings during triathlon swimming may be due to the results of these panic attacks (39, 260, 264). Also, competitive swimmers may panic when swimming in open water where they are confronted with a different setting than the Olympic pool and the need to use different swimming strokes than the strokes they are trained for (260, 264). Recreational swimmers in open water encounter similar panic experiences when suddenly confronted with cold water, rip currents, or unexpected underwater objects. Some swimming instructors have experienced students who refused to enter the water or almost drowned when in the water, paralyzed by this fear of drowning. Special training programs have been developed for these students and are also recommended for experienced swimmers (114, 181). Divers with self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) also may panic when experiencing the sensation of cold and streaming water, losing visual contact with the bottom (blue orb syndrome), observation of large or dangerous fish, entanglement, entrapment, or equipment malfunction. This is sometimes combined with a reduction of muscle force (see below). An unknown, but probably significant, contributor to SCUBA drowning may be panic that completely incapacitates the diver both mentally and physically (181, 210).

The psychological aspects in these situations also includes concern by the person in the water about a sudden onset of previously diagnosed and treated minor physical problems (such as cardiac problems, hypertension, diabetes) and other frightening thoughts, leading to sensory deprivation, illusions, flashbacks, and thoughts of catastrophic outcome. It is well known that panic leads almost instantaneously to irrational logic and cognition. Problem-solving capacities are decreased.

There is limited physiological literature on this phenomenon, although many reports also mention a physical component, most of all paralysis or loss of muscle strength. This may be due to the hyperarousal of the sympathetic activation during panic in the water. This will lead to a combination of physical and psychological stressors that could potentiate cold shock, disable swimming ability, or at least create the feeling that swimming ability has seriously decreased. Notable in people with an overreactive anxiety state, the stressful or unexpected event may result in a panic-induced hyperarousal, resulting in submersion.

4 Hidden Ways Drinking Ice-Cold Water Is Bad For You

Ice-cold drinks are refreshing in the summer heat, and drinking ice water can help you burn calories(1). But there’s lots of anecdotal evidence that drinking iced drinks can be bad for you, even when the weather is hot – and the science backs it up.

You’ve probably how warm water opens your pores and makes your skin feel looser, while cold water closes your pores and constricts your skin. Guess what? Drinking cold water does the same thing to your digestive tract! Here are a few reasons to consider skipping the ice in your drinks:

1. Cold Water Can Affect Your Digestion

According to one study from the Journal of Physiology, the effects of drink temperature can have a serious impact on your digestive system(2). Ultimately the effects vary from person to person, but cold water was shown to have a negative impact on meal digestion.

This is a concept found in traditional Chinese medicine, according to one holistic Chinese medicine clinic.

“If you drink cold liquid with a meal then all of the fats will solidify and turn your food into a sticky sludge that slows down your digestion and becomes stagnant,” the clinic’s literature explains(3).

Drink something cold causes your blood vessels to shrink and this hinders your digestion. Instead of working towards breaking down and absorbing the nutrients from the foods you just ate, your body is stuck wasting energy to regulate your core temperature.

2. Cold Water Can Negatively Affect The Spleen

In acupuncture traditions, the spleen is considered to need a moderate temperature in order to function properly. A healthy spleen is essential for protecting the body from pathogens and fighting off infection(4).

3. Cold Water Weakens Your Immune System

Drinking cold water after a meal creates excess mucus in your body, which can lead to a decrease in immune system function, making it easier to catch colds and illnesses. Although its effect is minimal, to an individual with a weak constitution, drinking cold water could prove problematic.

4. Cold Water Can Exacerbate Existing Health Conditions

Cold water can exacerbate asthma symptoms in children, according to a study by the Eurpean Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology(6). Another study found that 7.6% of participants experienced a headache after drinking a glass of ice water – and the numbers only go up when you factor in whether or not a participant had a history of migraine(7).

Benefits to Drinking Warm Water

Here are some benefits to drinking water that is room temperature or warmer:

  • Faster + increased hydration
  • Natural digestive enzymes are stimulated and therefore your digestion is enhanced
  • Food breaks down more easily
  • Your bowels move better (warm water with lemon in the morning is great for this!)

Hot Drinks Can Cool You Down Just As Well As Cold Ones

If you’re feeling reluctant to give up ice cold drinks, consider the fact that warm beverages have been proven to help you cool down just as effectively as cold ones.

According to a report from NPR, “The hot drink somehow has an effect on your systemic cooling mechanisms, which exceeds its actual effect in terms of heating your body.”(8)

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a room temperature drink might be even better for you on a hot day than an ice-cold one.

What is upwelling?

This graphic shows how displaced surface waters are replaced by cold, nutrient-rich water that “wells up” from below. Conditions are optimal for upwelling along the coast when winds blow along the shore.

Winds blowing across the ocean surface push water away. Water then rises up from beneath the surface to replace the water that was pushed away. This process is known as &ldquoupwelling.&rdquo

Upwelling occurs in the open ocean and along coastlines. The reverse process, called &ldquodownwelling,&rdquo also occurs when wind causes surface water to build up along a coastline and the surface water eventually sinks toward the bottom.

Water that rises to the surface as a result of upwelling is typically colder and is rich in nutrients. These nutrients &ldquofertilize&rdquo surface waters, meaning that these surface waters often have high biological productivity. Therefore, good fishing grounds typically are found where upwelling is common.

Best Times to Drink Warm or Hot Water


Ever wonder why most people consume a hot beverage upon rising? Yes caffeine has something to do with it, but that’s not the only reason. Ayurvedic medicine states that drinking warm water in the morning helps to stimulate digestion.

Drinking cold water with a meal could have some effects on the digestive process. It requires more energy from the body to warm up cool liquids and foods, thus taking a longer time to digest and assimilate.(4)

to know for those of us suffering from digestive distress!

Further reading: read more about the benefits of drinking warm lemon water in the morning.


When it comes to cleansing the body of impurities, consuming adequate amounts of water is of paramount importance. It is recommended to drink room temperature water with a squeeze of lemon. (5)

This requires the least amount of energy for your body to assimilate.

During a detox you may want to add some cleansing additions to your water.

Try adding some cucumber slices and fresh mint or slices of apple and a cinnamon stick

Find here how to easily make your own flavored water for detox and weight loss. Not only will you find keeping hydrated more enjoyable, you’ll also be receiving the cleansing benefits these foods have to offer.

Further reading: To learn more about the concept of detox and how to use detox to cleanse and energize your body, you can find a lot of useful information in my e-book The Detox Guide. This guide provides the best information and safe ways to detox, including recipe ideas.

Pain Relief

Warm or hot water is better to consume if you are dealing with a headache or inflammation. Because warm water helps stimulate blood flow to the tissues it’s an excellent remedy for treating menstrual cramps (6).

Further reading: read my article about the top 22 painkillers in your kitchen.


Drinking warm water when you’re constipated can help to move things along. The main cause of constipation is dehydration, so it’s essential to consume extra amounts of liquids.

Warm water helps to stimulate blood flow and has a more soothing effect in the intestines than cold water.

Week 2: Feeling Blue

While it seemed I crushed week one of the cold water challenge, I hit an iceberg on week two. After the first two days of this new week, I began to develop a persistent cough and a runny nose due to the temperature fluctuations caused by the seasonal changes. After Tuesday night’s cold shower, I felt fatigued and unable to endure the ice cold showers I happily danced my way through all of last week.

Splashing my body with cold water no longer felt refreshing or invigorating. I felt physically and mentally drained, and relied on a heating pad to alleviate my swollen muscles — the contours of my body were covered in layers and layers of blankets and quilts. I was unable to complete what I thought was a possible feat because of my health, but I was able to reap the benefits of cold showers for a week and three days.

2-Week Challenge Over: Will I Do It Again?

Although I have not taken a bone-chilling shower for almost a week, as I recover from my cold, I would not dismiss doing cold showers in the future — willingly. Dipping my toes into a pool of cold water gave me an immediate adrenaline rush and encouraged my body and mind to adapt to the new setting. The two-week cold water challenge is not just about how long you’re able to take cold showers, but about being able to take on any challenge by training your mind to get stronger.

Cold showers have been therapeutic for me, and leads me to believe hydrotherapy could be a “water cure” for many skin conditions like eczema and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. One day I will be able to jump into the shower without hesitation and turn the knob zero percent hot/100 percent cold. The freezing water will surround my body and I will feel that surge of energy overcome every fiber of my being without screaming or panicking.