Cough out a lung

We all know the saying, “Coughing up a lung.”

But what about, “Coughing out a lung?” According to the New England Journal of Medicine, that’s exactly what one woman did.

A 40-year-old woman with asthma went to a hospital in Birmingham, United Kingdom, after two days of chest pain.

She had been coughing especially hard in the prior two weeks and had previously been given antibiotics for a lower respiratory tract infection.

While examining her, doctors noticed cracking and popping sounds coming from the right side of her torso. An X-ray revealed that the woman had coughed so hard, she herniated her lung.

“While she didn’t technically cough up her lung, she coughed out her lung, through her ribs,” Dr. Rachel Vreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, told “It’s so unusual to have this happen that it would merit this case report — unusual, but possible, apparently.”

Turns out the woman’s lung tissue slipped through the space between two of her ribs. (Sound familiar?)

Vreeman said some violent coughing fits have caused similarly strange things. Whooping cough patients, for example, may cough so hard that a lung collapses.

“There are reports — it’s incredibly rare — of people who have had their spleens ruptured because of coughing,” Vreeman said. “There also are occasional reports of people who — and this is a gross one as well — some people are more prone to having their eyeballs coming out of their sockets — there are a few reports of people having problems with that from bad vomiting or coughing.”


Scroll to top