Coughing after a run, whether it’s referred to as runner’s cough or track hack, can be quite annoying. While this is a fairly normal occurrence that is rarely caused for alarm. There are precautions you may take to avoid it.
Here are some of the reasons you could be coughing after your run, as well as some remedies.
Why Do I Cough After I Run?
Coughing following a run is a very typical occurrence among runners of all capabilities.
Some causes of coughing post-run include allergies, postnatal drip, acid reflux, cold weather, bronchoconstriction brought on by exercise, and more.
It’s critical to pay close attention to your symptoms and whether you can receive relief with at-home remedies.
Bronchoconstriction Brought on by Exercise
As you run, your heart rate increases, which can lead your lungs to become hyperactive. This can trigger your airways to narrow, causing you to cough. This is known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
EIB usually peaks 10 to 15 minutes after you finish your run and subsides after an hour. Difficulty breathing and chest discomfort are two more EIB symptoms in addition to a cough.
Allergies to Certain Seasons
Whenever the pollen count is excessive, running outside might cause sneezing, wheezing, and coughing.
This response may be more intense if you have asthma and allergies, but it can also develop in runners who don’t normally suffer from seasonal allergies.
You could have postnasal drip if your cough usually leads to phlegm and you realize you’re clearing your throat a lot or have a chronic sore throat.
Mucus pouring from the nose to the throat, causing discomfort and coughing, is what this condition is called. A lot of things can cause it, including the typical cold, sinus infections, allergies, and even polluted air.
Dysfunction of the Vocal Cords
Although less prevalent than the other potential explanations of runner’s cough, Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD), which involves the irregular closure of the vocal cords when breathing in and out, can also generate coughing.
VCD is provoked by respiratory allergens, an upper respiratory infection, or exercise. But this does not affect the lower airways and is not an immune system response like asthma.
The Weather is Cold
When it’s cold outdoors, there’s a good chance the humidity will be low. The low humidity generates conditions that might induce dehydration, inflammation, and narrowing of the airways in your lungs.
Similar to EIB, you may have difficulties getting air into your lungs if this scenario develops. Coughing may be triggered by this issue.
Coughing up phlegm can be a symptom of acid reflux. Especially if it’s followed by a sensation of something trapped in your throat.
This illness occurs when stomach acids go up to your esophagus and then into your throat, causing discomfort and coughing.
How Much Running is Enough to Cause Coughing?
When you get any of the problems listed above, any level of running could trigger a coughing fit. As previously mentioned, some illnesses, such as EIB and VCD, are more serious than allergy symptoms.
EIB can produce a coughing fit after jogging, as we’ve already mentioned. You could assume this happens after a long run or a very fast/hard workout routine.
5 Ways to Keep From Coughing After a Run
Take the following preventative steps if you have a cough that is intermittent and mild:
1. Reduce Your Exposure to the Cold
If you cough further after running in the cold, your lungs may be reacting to the cold, dry air. Whenever that’s the situation, try running on a treadmill or indoor track when it’s especially cold outside. Or at the very least time your run for the warmest portion of the day.
If you must run in the cold, be sure to warm up slowly and carefully. So that your lungs can adjust to the conditions, and prevent pushing the pace unless it is extremely cold.
Alternatively, try inhaling through your nose or cover your face with a towel, scarf, or mask to warm the air before it reaches your lungs.
2. When Pollen Numbers Are High Avoid Running Outdoors
Before going for a run, assess the pollen count and quality of air to determine if allergies. Or other allergens in the air are causing you to cough.
A brief internet search should provide this information, with the National Allergy Bureau’s website being extremely effective.
You should be able to find out what amounts of pollen or air quality you can handle and what concentrations you cannot with some trial and error. If the conditions aren’t ideal, try exercising indoors or changing your run to a more convenient time.
It may be beneficial to know that, according to the American Lung Association, spring is the most difficult season for most people with allergies, so avoiding outside running during this time of year may be enough to avoid problems.
Medications or an Inhaler May Be Helpful
If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma or EIB, you probably have an inhaler that can help avoid or reduce coughing if used right before your run.
Consult your medical professional to see if this is a good option for you and, if so, when and how to use your inhaler for the best results.
Acid-Producing Foods Should Be Avoided
Furthermore, if you believe your post-run cough is caused by acid reflux, avoid foods that can promote acid reflux, such as coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, spicy cuisine, onions, and tomatoes, for at least three hours before running.
If you feel your cough is caused by a cold or upper respiratory infection, take a few days off. This is to allow your system to heal and avoid worsening your symptoms.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Coughing after a run is something you can control on your own, particularly if it’s caused by seasonal allergies or postnasal drip.
However, if your symptoms last more than a few days or are more severe than mild, you should visit a doctor.
Key Points to Remember
Coughing after a run is fairly frequent and, in most cases, does not signify a serious health issue. However, if you’ve attempted at-home remedies like skipping running when the pollen numbers are high and you are still having a cough you should see a doctor.
They’ll be able to evaluate your health and see if you have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. If you do have any questions about your health, don’t wait to contact your doctor.