Fried, fatty, and oily foods are prone to cause various symptoms after eating. While chest and stomach pain are the most common, sore throat is also a possible problem.
Acid reflux, food allergies might trigger throat irritation after oily food intake.
Can oily food cause a sore throat?
Experiencing a sore throat after oily foods might be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, but sometimes the culprit is the way these foods are cooked.
These are the most common causes of throat irritation after eating oily or greasy foods:
- silent reflux (laryngopharyngeal reflux, LPR, reflux laryngitis)
- food allergy
- reheating cooking oil
- dry, rough breading
Silent reflux, oily foods, and throat irritation
Throat pain, irritation, lump in the throat after eating fried or oily food is often caused by a condition called silent reflux.
We talk about silent reflux when digestive juices from the stomach flow back (reflux) not only into the food pipe, but all the way up into the voice box (larynx), or throat (pharynx).
Oily, fatty foods are a risk factor for silent reflux. A study examined the dietary habits of 60 people suffering from silent reflux:
Analysis of data regarding the role of diet as a risk factor for reflux revealed that 33 patients (55%) are eating meat, 56 patients (93.3%) eating fat, 45 patients (75%) eating sweet, 55 patients (91.7%) eating spicy food, 52 patients (96.7%) eating fried food, 34 patients (56.7%) drinking tea, 51 patients (85%) eating big meals, 21 patients (35%) drinking fruit juices, 54 patients (90%) eating sour foods, 51 patients (85%) eating citrus fruits, and 22 patients (36.7%) smokers.(source)
As you can see, fatty foods, spicy foods, and sweets are likely to be the most significant risk factors.
The Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh also notes that fried foods are especially common triggers of silent reflux.
Typical symptoms are:
- hoarseness, coughing, phlegm
- constant clearing of the throat
- sore throat
- postnasal drip
- sour taste in the mouth
- difficulty swallowing
Sore throat immediately after eating
Immediate reactions to food intake are often triggered by food allergies. The digestive system needs some time to start digesting the food and therefore gastrointestinal symptoms are usually not immediate.
Eggs are often used when cooking fried, oily foods. Since egg is a common allergen, it’s quite possible that the throat pain is not caused by the high fat or oil content, but by the eggs or some other allergen.
Allergic reactions are quite different from the above-mentioned symptoms of silent reflux:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- rashes, hives
- runny nose, postnasal drip
- swelling of various body parts, most often the throat, tongue, or lips
Instant swelling of the throat after eating is often caused by a food allergy.
It is important to get tested if you suffer from allergies, as sometimes this condition might progress to anaphylaxis. This is a significantly more severe allergic reaction than a sore throat and requires immediate medical help.
Reheating cooking oil can cause a sore throat
Repeated use of cooking oil comes with many health risks, throat problems due to the inhalation of cooking fumes is one of these.
Several unhealthy compounds form when reheating vegetable oils at high temperatures, e.g.:
- Certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) released when reheating cooking oil are carcinogenic, they can cause e.g. lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.
- Acrolein is a throat irritant, which precipitates coughing and sore throat. Eye, nose, and throat irritation might happen even at lower levels of exposure.
Common trigger foods
Let’s see some of the most common oily foods that can cause sore throat after eating.
- Silent reflux: Any oily, greasy, or deep-fried food can trigger silent reflux.
- Food allergies: Eggs, soy, wheat, and milk are some of the common allergens fried, oily foods might contain.
- Reheating oil: Most reused vegetable oils release compounds that can irritate the throat. Olive oil seems to be the least risky.
- Breading: Any fried food with dry, rough breading might irritate the throat. If you have a scratchy throat after fried foods, but no other symptoms, this might be the cause.
Not only fatty fried meat, but doughnuts, potato chips, french fries, and onion rings might be a trigger.
Remedies for sore throat after fried foods
Relieving a sore throat after eating fried foods depends on what condition triggered the throat pain.
If a food allergy is the culprit, the only thing you can do is to avoid the foods that contain the ingredient you are allergic to.
Silent reflux is often treated by medications (antacids, proton pump inhibitors), but they are not always effective, and lifestyle changes can play a significant role in reducing or preventing the symptoms:
- Eat less fatty/oily food. An air fryer can be a big help.
- Drink small sips of water while eating (lukewarm is the best for fatty foods).
- Green tea might help digestion, however, its caffeine content might cause symptoms for some people.
- Don’t lie down right after eating.
- Probiotics are great for digestive problems, they often help to avoid or relieve symptoms.
From obesity to heart issues, oily and deep-fried foods can cause many help issues.
Sore throat is a possible symptom of eating oily foods and the most likely cause is silent reflux.
While it is absolutely okay to eat fried foods on rare occasions, you may want to limit your intake and substitute with healthier options as part of a balanced diet.