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Chronic Cough or Gluten Reaction? Can gluten cause a coughing fit?

What causes chronic cough?
Mounting evidence shows that gluten sensitivity (intolerance) and celiac disease can manifest with a chronic cough or fits of coughing. A number of research studies have already linked gluten to asthma.

20% of those with a chronic cough don’t have a clear diagnosis. If you are one of them, ask your doctor about testing you for gluten sensitivity.

19 thoughts on “Chronic Cough or Gluten Reaction? Can gluten cause a chronic cough?

  1. Jennifer says:

    I have had a chronic cough for a few years until I gave up gluten. It’s a post-nasal drip that causes me to constantly clear my throat and cough. It’s awful. After giving up gluten for a few weeks, I noticed a significant difference and have minimized the symptoms. I can have a small amount of gluten from time to time (like a few croutons on a salad), but more than that brings it all back and then I suffer for a few days or sometimes weeks if I go overboard and have a little gluten a few days in a row.

    • Febe Meyer says:

      Jennifer, thank you SO much for posting this… I started coughing and wheezing so badly at the beginning of last year, my GP sent me for chest x-rays. My O2 sats were down to 92% – so I had to figure the whole thing out pretty quick… it was hard, because it feels like the doctors, nobody, talks about this, or thinks to tell you to eliminate gluten.

      I’ve also found that the amount of gluten I have is proportional to the symptoms, so reading your post was incredibly encouraging to me. It feels like if I go a long time without eating gluten, I can trespass ever so slightly (crouton-level trespassing)… but if I do more, I’m in agony – wheezing, coughing (and this is worst time in the history of the world to have a chronic cough – people like at you like you’re trying to kill them).

      It just helps to know there’s someone else out there that also has this… whatever it is 🙂 All the best on your GF journey!

      • Patricia says:

        I’ve been diagnosed recently with coeliac disease. I also have a terrible cough and a chest that wheazes so badly it stops me sleeping. I’ve only been gluten free for a couple of weeks so praying that this cough will go soon.

    • Valerie Holyoak says:

      By chance I have come across this and I am so thankful I did. I have coughed for almost 8 years, sometimes violently enough to throw up, numerous chest xrays and doctor visits show nothing. Until now. Thank you for sharing this. I am looking further into this and hoping it is the reason behind the cough.

  2. Angela gill says:

    I’ve had a chronic cough for 20 years loads of tests hospital visits etc , shown up nothing until I went on a diet cut out bread hardly eat any now and I’ve not coughed for 2 years and it’s the longest I’ve not coughed for

  3. Kristine says:

    I have had a chronic cough for years. its like a tickle in the throat, not a deep chest cough but often is like a cough spasm. Very annoying and will wake me at night. I recently started a diet plan low sugar, no alcohol, low carb. I notice that I am not having this tickle and cough now. I also had trouble swallowing sometimes but not always and that also has diminished. So I am thinking my issue with the cough is food or gluten related. Hopefully I have found a weight loss and cure for my cough doing what I am doing 🙂

    • George Richard Ecodu says:

      Ok very interesting. Right now I suffer from cough. I was told by a medical personnel that it’s allergy. I suspect it gluten causing it. Thanks for the articles in here

  4. Amy says:

    My son has had diagnosed celiac for 3-4 years. He is vigilant about avoiding gluten, places that have gluten, and no food in his apartment with gluten. Because he has been “glutened” before in the past, he is almost fearful (I would be too). Inhalers, x-rays, allergy medications, etc later, and still no cause for coughing. His disease is refractive and I am wondering if the inflammation in his body is could be causing his cough? Thank you!

  5. Ilija P says:

    I have suffered from a chronic cough for decades. It was unrelenting, and could be very bad, coughing so hard it would make me throw up, which in turn, after years of this, caused erosion in the esophagus. Doctors were zero help, & since codeine is no longer prescribed, I had no relief from the serious cough, which was so bad I feared I would have a car accident while coughing. I experimented with Carnivore Diet – cough went away. I noticed a flare up after a week of eating a lot of bread. A-HAH! Cut wheat out of my diet, and symptoms went away. If I stupidly eat wheat, the cough returns.

    Some doctors sneer at people who research their conditions online – but, given that in 30 years they were of no assistance whatsoever, I am grateful for “Dr Google” for providing this information, and sites like this who discuss these lesser known chronic conditions.

    • Alisa Lupo says:

      I been suffering for seven years with this coughing like you I would have to pull over couldn’t drive . Went to so many doctors. What do u eat just meat?

  6. Debbie says:

    I have a chronic cough and s with post nasal drip. I had nasal surgery etc with no luck. Finally read these posts and it makes sense because I have celiac and have been sloppy with my diet but when I focus on it the coughing guts stop. Thank you.

  7. Carol Ann says:

    This is amazing, what I am reading. I have celiac disease for probably 50 years but only found out 20 years ago. Very stict, but very occasionnally glutened. Lately I have been trying to figure out a terrible cough, which I had 2 months ago and the past few days I have not been feeling well, stomach and liver pain and the general lousy feeling of being glutened and the horrible cough came back. I was wondering if all of this was related. I guess I’m not crazy and that the cough is re,ated to being glutened. After all, gluten can cause allergy and intolerance. I have all kinds of medication, puffers, etc. for asthma. Thank you for helping me figure this out.

  8. B says:

    I had a chronic cough 2016-2018 to the point that I couldn’t get through a conversation without a coughing fit. I had every possible test at all the specialists. Asthma medicine, reflux medicine, environmental changes suggested by an allergist — none of it helped. A doctor suggested I cut dairy, gluten, and sugar, and the cough was 95% gone in a weekend. I then did a whole IFM elimination diet and found that gluten is the cause.
    (I’m still doing some of the environmental and dietary changes and other medicines for other symptoms, but the cough is absolutely from gluten.)

    If you have a cough that is improved by cutting gluten but it’s not completely gone, I have found that when my kids eat gluten and then climb in my lap, I cough. I wear a mask when I volunteer at the elementary, because some sweet kid is going to get too close and then I’ll cough and everyone will worry that I’m sick, so I mask up preemptively. I avoid bakeries. My husband tries to avoid gluten in the evenings so I don’t cough at night.
    I think gargling warm water and brushing my tongue helps too. I can’t control what others eat, but I can try to sleep in a GF environment.
    My cough isn’t any wheezing or in my lungs. It’s in my throat and dry, and strangers ask if I’m ok while I turn red.
    I’ve been GF for about four years now, and if I veer off by a bite or two, I’ll have a headache and drowsiness in just a few minutes, and the cough about 20 minutes later.
    I guess I’m writing the post I wish I had seen back in 2016. It took a long time to arrive to where I am now, but I’m so much better gluten free.

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