While cold drinks don’t technically affect asthma, if you’re already in the middle of an asthmatic episode, they could cause extra coughing.

When you have asthma, you have to be mindful of triggers. Even for people who fall into the “well-managed” category, asthma flare-ups — also known as asthma attacks — can occur unexpectedly.

While common culprits usually include seasonal allergies or falling ill with a respiratory virus, sometimes foods and even specific drinks are also linked with increasing common asthma symptoms such as tightness in your chest and wheezing.

If you’re concerned about how cold drinks may be affecting your asthma, keep reading to learn their full effect on your lungs.

When food does trigger an asthma attack, the individual is most likely to also have a food allergy — such as to peanuts or shellfish. Likewise, some foods high in sulfites such as packaged potatoes, wine and beer, and even pickled foods are more closely linked with triggering asthma if consumed in large quantities.

Research doesn’t support the idea that an ice-cold drink will trigger an asthma attack or increase the incidence of attacks. Instead, a person with asthma might experience an initial temporary cough that goes away as their body gets used to the cold substance.

Asthma and liquid nitrogen

While cold drinks aren’t directly linked with triggering asthma, there’s one exception to this — liquid nitrogen. A common trend amongst foodies is often to use liquid nitrogen to create the impression of smoke. It can often be added to a drink just before serving for the same effect.

For people with asthma, consuming drinks that have been exposed to liquid nitrogen without letting the odorless and colorless chemical fully evaporate can increase their risk of an asthma attack. Specifically, the concern centers on a heightened danger of suffocation, or asphyxiation, if liquid nitrogen is used while you’re in a poorly ventilated area.

Even people with mild asthma are at risk of an attack when presented with liquid nitrogen. People with asthma are encouraged to avoid foods and drinks that have been altered with liquid nitrogen as the best safety measure.

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Why do cold drinks make you cough more?

While cold drinks aren’t known to affect your asthma, they could cause you to cough more frequently. Sometimes when you consume especially cold drinks (or cold food such as ice cream), it could cause a bronchospasm — or a brief tightening of your airways that can cause a cough.

This is your body’s natural reaction to cold air entering your lungs, but it could cause discomfort in those with asthma.

If you’re already in the midst of an asthmatic episode, it may be helpful to avoid cold drinks in general. Lukewarm or warm drinks may be easier on your system during this time. Be sure to still drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is also important to your lung health.

Although most drinks aren’t linked with triggering asthma or increasing your risk of developing the respiratory disease, research points to a select few that should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation.

Sugary drinks

Most people are aware nowadays that an excess of sugary drinks may increase your chances of developing diabetes. But a 2019 review of previous publications found an association specifically between drinking sugary soft drinks and experiencing either asthma or wheezing.

Not only was this risk present in adults but in children up to 18 years old as well. A link was also discovered in publications following prenatal exposure to sugary carbonated drinks.

This heightened risk is also present for people that consume sugary fruit drinks. A 2015 study conducted in the Netherlands also noted that consuming 100% fruit juice as well as drinks made with added sugar also heightened the risk of children developing asthma.


As mentioned previously, certain alcoholic beverages can be high in sulfites. Wines, beers, and ciders are the biggest culprits — with ciders also being high in histamines. Sulfites are commonly used as a natural preservative and are a key feature in wine especially.

When consumed in excess, the increased exposure to sulfites and histamines can trigger asthma symptoms. Depending on a person’s tolerance level, symptoms may present within consuming the first drink or may require more exposure in one setting. Common symptoms can include chest tightness, wheezing, and feeling breathless.

Keep in mind that although beer, wine, and cider are considered the top culprits, some people with asthma may find that their symptoms are triggered when consuming any type of alcohol. This can include spirits and cocktails. As a result, if you know that alcohol can trigger your symptoms, you should limit your drinking. Be sure that you have a rescue inhaler nearby too.

Does drinking milk make asthma worse?

For many years, conventional wisdom preached that people with asthma should avoid consuming certain dairy products such as milk or ice cream because these foods would increase mucus production — which could worsen asthma symptoms. As a result, many parents are hesitant to have milk in their child’s diet if their child has asthma.

This belief can trace its roots to a long-held myth that dates to the 12th century. These may be based on even more ancient beliefs on the body’s “humors” and how to keep them in balance. But current research doesn’t support this theory.

Milk and milk products haven’t been shown to increase mucus production in your body and are safe for adults and children with asthma to consume.

In the rare percentage of people that have a dairy allergy, reaction symptoms after consuming dairy can mimic an asthma attack and can include wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

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It can’t be stressed enough that asthma is a chronic disease that currently doesn’t have a cure. As such, when a flare-up occurs, it can be life threatening if your symptoms aren’t quickly managed. The best way to manage living with asthma is to ensure that your symptoms are well controlled.

For the best outcomes, this means working with a healthcare professional or respiratory specialist to determine a treatment plan that focuses on preventing symptoms. This can include a combination of long-term control medications as well as quick relief medications such as rescue inhalers for when an unexpected flare-up occurs.

Your treatment plan will be customized based on the severity of your asthma and which type you have, your age, and your known triggers.

Along with medication, people with asthma are also urged to take proactive steps to minimize flare-up risks, such as sticking to their recommended medication regimen, avoiding triggers, and reducing exposure to allergens. Minimizing your exposure to allergens includes preventive cleaning around your home.

Click here to learn about traditional and alternative asthma therapies.

Living with asthma can be daunting at first as you try to adjust to your new normal. Because there’s no cure for asthma, it’s important to be aware of known triggers, reduce your exposure to them, and work with a healthcare professional on a treatment plan to control your symptoms. Taking these steps will help reduce the impact of asthma on your quality of life.

Most people can still enjoy cold drinks without fearing an asthma attack. But be aware that regularly consuming sugary drinks can pose an increased risk of developing asthma. Likewise, if you opt to drink alcohol, you may experience temporary flare-up symptoms that might require a rescue inhaler to control.