Coughing is a natural, protective response to inhalation of foreign particles and irritants. When a person laughs, small droplets of saliva can inadvertently enter the upper respiratory system. The brain interprets this as a threat to the body and initiates a cough in order to expel the phlegm.
People with underlying health conditions may also cough after laughing. Those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have sensitive airways that can be triggered by the forceful exhalation of air during laughter, leading to bronchospasms and coughing fits. Individuals with allergies to irritants like pollen or dust can also be prone to coughing after laughing.
A person with GERD could experience acid reflux after laughing, which can irritate the throat and induce a cough. Similarly, some individuals with acid reflux use a cough suppressant medication in order to prevent the triggering of their symptoms by antacids and other medications.
Overall, coughing after laughing is a normal and harmless reaction that occurs in almost everyone. However, if this occurs frequently and disrupts your daily routine, you should consult your doctor for further diagnostic tests. Over-the-counter remedies such as cough suppressants, lozenges, and menthol or eucalyptus essential oils can help soothe the throat and reduce a coughing fit caused by laughing. In addition, avoiding triggers of your symptoms such as allergens, using a humidifier to moisten dry air, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise, and quitting smoking can also be helpful. If a coughing fit continues to occur, your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator for asthma or a proton pump inhibitor for GERD.