Updated 04 September 2017

The power of a cough

Did you know that when you cough you produce a blast of wind stronger than a hurricane?

A cough is the body's mechanism to expel irritants from your breathing system and each cough produces a gust of about 300 miles an hour.

Coughing, though annoying, is actually good for you, says Jeanne Hanson, author of "Your Amazing Body, from Headaches to Sweaty Feet and Everything in Between." That's because it clears your bronchial tubes and lungs of unwanted material and helps you breathe easier.

A sneeze, on the other hand, is an involuntary reaction prompted by pain receptors. Sneezing is an automatic response to shut down inhalation and expel a possibly dangerous substance. Sneezes also produce a hurricane-force wind averaging 75 to 100 miles per hour.



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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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