How do we Cough?

When a foreign irritant enters the trachea, it can interrupt our breath and cause the cough reflex. The annoyance could be anything, including mucus, smoke, excess water, or a piece of food. When anything obstructs the flow of air or irritates the respiratory tract, the vocal cords will open more extensive than usual, which will increase the amount of air being drawn into the lungs.
Then, the epiglottis closes over the windpipe, effectively shutting off the flow of air. The rib muscles and the abdominal muscles suddenly contract, which causes the pressure to increase behind the epiglottis, which has closed. That pressure eventually causes the air to burst through and be expelled at a very high rate of speed, up to 100 mph.
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