We’ve all had it happen. You take a bite or a sip at dinner when suddenly out of nowhere you start having a coughing fit while trying to tell everyone “no, no I’m fine. It went down the wrong pipe!”
But what exactly happens inside that body of yours when it goes down that dreaded wrong pipe?
There are actually more than 30 muscles at work when you start to chew and swallow something. When the food or drink gets past the chew stage and ready to head down to your stomach it faces a crossroads of two different “pipes”. The esophagus and the trachea. You want the esophagus route which takes a non-stop trip right to the tummy, NOT the trachea. Since your body is very smart it already knows this and closes off that trachea pathway so nothing enters. But every once in a while air gets in the way from talking, breathing, etc… sometimes the food gets by the barricade and down that “wrong pipe” road triggering that awful coughing fit.
Obviously this can be way more scary with food rather than liquid because of the choking factor. So the most important thing you can do is try to avoid talking with your mouth full and chew your food into smaller pieces. Just like Mom and Dad always told you growing up.
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