In Summary
  • The protein reacted to is usually easily destroyed by heat (heat labile) so that once the fruit or vegetable is boiled, there may be no cough or other reactions. However, not all fruits can be boiled to destroy the implicated protein.
  • Fortunately, the body heat itself may help “burn” the protein so that the reactions you are getting may last only a short time (about 15 minutes) hence not requiring you to avoid eating fruits because they are nutritious. Alternatively, you can avoid eating only those fruits you react to.

Whenever I eat fruits I cough and get gas in my stomach. Why? Michael

Dear Michael,
Cough is one natural way the airway uses to flush out irritants that may have gone into it. Cough may also happen as an attempt to expel germs infecting the airway. Once the irritant is expelled, or the germs subdued, the cough wanes.

People with allergies may react to a number of things known or unknown to them and these may include a certain eaten protein in fruits or vegetables. The reaction may lead to irritation in the mouth and throat leading to a cough and itchy mouth. In the extreme, this so-called oral allergy syndrome may lead to swollen lips as well.

The protein reacted to is usually easily destroyed by heat (heat labile) so that once the fruit or vegetable is boiled, there may be no cough or other reactions. However, not all fruits can be boiled to destroy the implicated protein.

Fortunately, the body heat itself may help “burn” the protein so that the reactions you are getting may last only a short time (about 15 minutes) hence not requiring you to avoid eating fruits because they are nutritious. Alternatively, you can avoid eating only those fruits you react to.

The good thing, however, is that treatment of other associated allergies may stop the cough itself. Allergies may lead to gas in the stomach, the reason you get cough and a gassy stomach. This can also be managed by prescription drugs of the type H2 receptor antagonist.

When people swallow food, the upper part of the stomach opens. This may result in a reflux of the food contents and stomach acid into the gullet and throat leading to heartburn or pain under the breast bone sometimes associated with cough.
This mostly happens in people with a reflux problem, especially those with peptic ulcer disease or hiatus hernia and not just fruits.