Last spring, Australian Minister of Parliament Graham Perrett was watching an episode of "Veep" while eating sushi. Laughing at a scene in which Congressman Jonah Ryan is caught shaving his head to fake having cancer, he inhaled a clump of rice and began to cough violently.
"I kind of stumbled forward and knocked my head on the corner of the kitchen cabinet," he told BuzzFeed.
His wife found him unconscious on the ground.
"I must have been out for only a few seconds," he reported, "because, when I came to, I was still laughing at Jonah."
Funny incident (Perrett was OK), but a severe cough is usually no laughing matter. Six to 12 percent of the U.S. population experiences chronic coughing.
It can get so violent and persistent that it triggers vomiting, cracked ribs or bleeding. Possible causes:
1. Smoking (anything) traumatizes airways and can cause persistent, violent coughing. Go to clevelandclinic.org for a quit plan.
2. A chronic, dry cough can sometimes be the only symptom of asthma (and can trigger vomiting). Get a diagnosis and a treatment plan before you have a breath-stopping attack.
3. Bronchitis, pneumonia or whooping cough can produce heavy coughing, gagging and vomiting.
4. ACE inhibitor meds for hypertension and other drugs can cause severe coughing. Talk to your doc about alternatives.
5. Acid reflux into your food pipe and airways can cause irritation and severe coughing. Talk to your doc about diet changes. Medication or a Mediterranean diet and eating early can effectively relieve GERD.
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