Cough

Updated 16 November 2016

Five of the weirdest things to cause a cough

While you might expect your cough to be caused by the flu, you would be far less likely to suspect a condom, fish or a pea plant to be the culprit. These are some of the weirdest things to have caused people to cough...

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Whether we are sick with the flu or suffer from chronic allergies, all of us cough from time to time. While coughing is not sexy at the best of times, some people have had particularly weird experiences. These are five of the strangest and most disgusting things that have caused people to cough...

1. A condom

condom stuck in lungs

After spending 6 months coughing up phlegm relentlessly, a 27 year-old woman from India eventually had a video bronchoscopy, a procedure that revealed a bag-like structure in her lung, according to the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences.

When doctors eventually managed to remove the structure from her bronchus, they were surprised to find that it was actually a condom!

While the patient wasn't asked exactly how she ended up inhaling a condom, doctors suspect that the incident may have occurred while she was performing oral sex on a man.

2. A pea plant

pea plant found in man's lung

In 2010, 75 year-old Ron Svedan from Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the United States began suffering from a deep, persistent cough in addition to other strange symptoms such as loss of appetite, dehydration and low blood pressure, Cape Cod Times reports. Having been previously diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Ron feared that he may now be suffering from lung cancer too!

Ron was referred to Dr. Jeff Spillane, a thoracic surgeon, with a suspected tumour in his lungs. Imagine Dr. Spillane's surprise when he discovered that the mass was not a tumour, in fact, it wasn't even a growth. The little lump was a pea plant! 

Spillane suspects that whilst Ron may have been eating peas when one may have gone down the wrong tube, lodging itself in his lung. The little pea plant was still a sprout, meaning that it did not yet require sunlight to grow, Time reports

Rather humorously, Ron Svedan celebrated the relieving news by having a meal - with a generous helping of peas of course!

3. An earring

earring lodged in woman's throat

Earlier this year, a 41 year-old Australian woman got a nasty surprise when doctors found an earring in her lung.

While at a party, the woman took a breath of her asthma inhaler and immediately felt a pain in her throat and began coughing, according to a case study by the British Medical Journal. The cough worsened and after a few minutes the woman was coughing up blood.

She was immediately taken to the emergency room where doctors found an earring lodged in her lung. It turns out that the woman had been keeping her asthma pump in her handbag without the safety cap on. The earring, that was also loose in her handbag, must have gotten stuck inside her asthma pump.

The woman said that she did notice that her asthma pump was rattling but thought nothing of it at the time!

4. A live fish

boy swallows live fish

In 2012, 12 year old Anil Barala had been playing a game with his friends where they dared each other to swallow live fish, the Huffington Post reports. After swallowing his fish bravely, Anil suddenly began coughing and became very short of breath. He was immediately rushed to hospital.

Unfortunately, the little dare almost turned out to be deadly - the 8.8 cm long swimmer that he had swallowed ended up in his lungs, not his stomach! Anil had to have emergency surgery to restore his breathing. The fish, on the other hand, was alive and breathing well when the doctors discovered it!

5. A piece of plastic cutlery

plastic fork lodged in lungs

John Manley  from North Carolina in the United States suffering from a chronic cough, fatigue and pneumonia was surprised to learn that his condition was caused by a fragment from a disposable eating utensil that had become lodged in his lung.

It is believed that John inhaled the fragment while slurping a soda at Wendy's, a fast food chain two years earlier. When doctors removed the piece of plastic, which was just over 2.5 cm long contained part of restaurant's slogan "Old fashioned hamburgers", according to NBC News.

Read more:

The strangest things that have been found in people's ears

5 weird medical practices

Weird facts about beer

Images all from Shutterstock

 

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Cough Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others. Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute.

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