Swallowing and coughing occur as a result of a reflex reaction of the body, which acts as a protective mechanism. Even a small crumb, a sip of water or even a wrong breath can lead to choking. Thus, if a foreign body accidentally enters the trachea, swallowing and coughing is a response to clear the trachea of it and ensure free breathing. However, these reflex reactions can also occur due to other factors, which – should more frequent symptoms occur – need to be identified.
Causes of cough and swallowing
As mentioned above, the body reacts with coughing to the swallowing of foreign bodies, such as food, liquids or other objects. Coughing causes the foreign bodies to be coughed out of the trachea to clean it and continue its function.
If this is not the cause of a cough irritant or allergies can also be a trigger of it. Some people are allergic to dust, so the airways can constrict and the body reacts with coughing. In dangerous situations, such as the emission of corrosive chemicals as well as smoke, the trachea also defends itself with a reflex reaction.
However, in rare cases, coughing may be caused by respiratory infections. In this case, a doctor should be consulted to rule out diseases such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Measures against ingestion
Certainly, swallowing cannot always be prevented – just like coughing afterwards. Nevertheless, there are behaviors that can be used to reduce respiratory irritation.
In our fast-paced world, we tend to eat quickly. This is not conducive to health or enjoyment. By breaking up the meal, food can be eaten more deliberately and slowly, which can reduce the risk of choking. A positive side effect is also: A faster feeling of satiety occurs, which protects the body from superfluous food intake.
Aside from that, sitting upright while eating food can prevent swallowing or coughing. At the same time, the focus should be on eating, which means that disruptive factors such as cell phones, television, or animated conversation are better relegated to before or after the meal. Children, in particular, should dine in a comfortable atmosphere to avoid unnecessary choking.
First aid for dangerous ingestion
In most cases, by coughing, the body manages to create a reflex response that protects against blocking the trachea and interfering with breathing. Sometimes, however, swallowed foreign bodies are too large or bulky to be carried out without assistance.
If a person swallows dangerously, it helps to encourage them to cough to clear the foreign body from the airway. If the cough reflex is not enough, the so-called “secret grip” can be used. To do this, you should stand behind the affected person, enclose them with your arms and apply pressure to the upper abdomen. If this does not help, it is strongly recommended to call an ambulance before unconsciousness or suffocation occurs.
Overall, it can be stated that a reflex reaction of the body in the event of foreign body penetration into the trachea is harmless in most cases. Nevertheless, care should be taken to reduce the risks of swallowing in order to exclude dangerous obstruction of the trachea. However, if a dangerous situation arises and coughing does not help, it is important to act quickly to clear the trachea and continue free breathing.