Spicy chips are a delicious snack, and those who love spice know it’s hard to eat just one. This can lead you to eat more than you can handle and experience some unpleasant consequences! However, the side effects are often mild and vary from person to person.
Spicy chips don’t directly cause a sore throat. However, spicy food can aggravate other pre-existing conditions caused by viruses, bacteria, irritants, allergies, and acid reflux. Some people with such conditions may feel their throat getting sore after eating spicy chips.
To determine if spicy food aggravates your sore throat, it’s essential to determine the root cause of your symptoms. Read on to find out what might be causing your throat discomfort and how to resolve it.
Do Spicy Chips Cause Acid Reflux Leading to Sore Throat?
If you notice your sore throat is aggravated by eating spicy chips, it might be a sign that you have acid reflux. But can spicy chips cause acid reflux? To understand this, we must understand what causes acid reflux.
Spicy chips do not directly cause acid reflux. Acid reflux can be caused by a weak esophageal sphincter that does not close when it should, allowing acid to flow in the wrong direction, such as your throat, causing pain or discomfort.
Acid reflux is often referred to as GERD (gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease) or heartburn. It occurs when stomach acid flows back into your esophagus, causing an uncomfortable, often burning sensation. It can also feel like chest pain, a lump in your throat, or difficulty swallowing.
Sore throats are a common symptom of acid reflux. Your stomach is designed to be acidic to break down food. However, your throat is not. So when that acid flows back up and hits the delicate throat lining, it creates inflammation, sensitivity, and pain.
It can also be from having too little stomach acid. When you consume food, particularly protein, it signals your stomach to start producing stomach acid to break it down. When sufficient stomach acid is created, it, in turn, sends a signal to the esophageal sphincter to close. If not enough acid is present, the sphincter will not receive the message and begins to malfunction.
However, the active ingredient in spicy food, capsaicin, can aggravate this pre-existing condition in two ways:
- First, capsaicin slows down digestion slightly. Food sitting in your stomach for longer combined with low stomach acid increases the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms.
- Second, capsaicin is highly acidic. A healthy throat may not have issues because the protective layer is intact. However, acid from reflux can burn away at the throat’s protective layer and cause inflammation. When you add spicy food to the mix, it can further damage the lining, causing discomfort.
If you are uncertain if acid reflux is to blame for your sore throat, it is best to consult a doctor. They can request an esophageal and a stomach pH test to determine acid levels in both regions.
How to Deal With Sore Throat After Eating Spicy Chips
It may be your first time getting a sore throat after eating spicy chips, or you might have noticed that you get the symptom every time you eat a spicy snack. Either way, you will want immediate relief from the burning sensation.
Tips To Ease the Pain
If you have consumed too much spicy food, there are a couple of ways to mitigate the discomfort.
- Dairy products such as yogurt or milk can often be a quick go-to if those spicy foods are burning your throat. The creaminess of dairy products can provide immediate relief. The soft texture coats and cools the throat lining. Casein in dairy also helps break down the capsaicin and flush it out of the body faster.
- Eating soft carbohydrates such as mashed potatoes or pasta can add bulk to your meal. The bulk can help separate some capsaicin molecules from hitting your throat. It also helps work the spice out of your body.
What To Avoid With a Sore Throat Aggravated by Spicy Chips
If your sore throat is aggravated by spicy food, it is best to avoid immediately consuming water. While it might seem natural to want to down water, this can have negative consequences. Water can spread the capsaicin throughout your throat, accentuating that painful, burning sensation.
Eat Spicy Foods in Moderation
Spicy foods are delicious, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. It’s good to exercise a little discipline when eating all types of foods. When consumed in moderation, people can usually tolerate spicy foods. However, when consumed in excess, they start to experience negative symptoms.
Each individual’s tolerance levels for spicy foods differ. Pay attention to your symptoms and how much feels right for you. Once you figure out your threshold, try to limit your consumption in the future until you treat the root cause of your sore throat.
What Causes a Sore Throat?
We have all experienced a sore throat at some point in our lives. They are unpleasant and can make it hard to eat, talk, or enjoy your daily life. In order to heal from a sore throat, it helps to know what brought it about in the first place.
A sore throat is caused by viruses, bacteria, allergens, irritants, or acid reflux. While some foods like spicy chips can make it worse, the healing protocol depends on identifying and eliminating the root problem.
It is important to pay attention to your symptoms to determine what is to blame. When you feel like you’re coming down with a cold because of a sore throat, you might as well avoid eating spicy chips altogether. If you heal from these underlying issues, you may be able to enjoy more of those tasty spicy chips without issues.
Here are some common causes of sore throats:
Many viruses can cause a sore throat. Some of the leading culprits include:
- Common cold
- Mononucleosis (mono)
There is no specific cure for these viral diseases. However, most of these will pass in 7-10 days. When they do, the symptoms will also subside. Your doctor can diagnose you based on symptoms and/or tests. They can also prescribe antiviral medication to support your immune system in fighting off the virus.
Bacteria is another cause of pharyngitis. Two bacteria, in particular, Fusobacterium necrophorum and streptococcus, are common culprits. Streptococcus is more commonly known as strep throat.
If your doctor suspects bacteria is the cause, they can prescribe antibiotics to kill off the pathogen. This can speed up recovery time in many individuals.
Allergies & Irritants
People can have seasonal or ongoing allergies. Seasonal allergies may include hayfever or pollen and only happen during certain times of the year. Persistent allergies could be towards pet dander and occur when exposed to the allergen.
Irritants don’t produce an allergic reaction per se but can create a similar response when exposed. Irritants may include mold, mildew, cigarette smoke, or perfumes.
Allergies and irritants often create post-nasal drip, which can damage the throat and cause pharyngitis. Other symptoms of allergy and irritant-related issues include congestion, itchy or watery eyes, and sneezing. Suppose you have a fever or body aches along with these. In that case, it is more likely to be caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
Avoiding the allergen or irritant is key to preventing symptoms, including a sore throat. Antihistamines and allergy shots can also help ease symptoms related to these conditions.
Spicy chips are a tasty snack. They are not usually the driving factor behind sore throats. However, they can aggravate already sensitized throats caused by illnesses, allergens, or acid reflux. To help alleviate your symptoms, it’s crucial to find the root cause and heal from there.
Since spicy food can irritate sore throats in some, it is best to eat it in moderation. This is done by listening to your body. If you notice symptoms popping up, adjust your eating habits accordingly or try one of the soothing methods discussed above.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham: When strep throat is something else: Forgotten bacterium is the cause of many severe sore throats in young adults
- Healthline: Sore Throat & Allergies: How They’re Linked, Treatment & More
- MedlinePlus: Esophageal pH Test
- Mayoclinic: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – Diagnosis and Treatment
- Houston Methodist Leading Medicine: How to Cool Your Mouth Down After Eating Spicy Food
- Family Doctor: Sore Throat – How to Get Rid of a Sore Throat
- Cookingenie: Why Do We Love Spicy Food? The Science Behind the Heat