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  #1  
Old 12-24-2002, 11:25 AM
badmana badmana is offline
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Can lungs remove food?

Today while eating lunch (fried rice) I (nearly) sent food the "wrong way".

It got me thinking...can our lungs remove food?

I know I've heard that lungs can "clean" themselves of smoke and all sorts of other particles but can it remove food or non-food items? What if I was to breathe a bug? Or a small rock? Would they have to be removed surgically?
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  #2  
Old 12-24-2002, 11:32 AM
Reeder Reeder is offline
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IANAD but I don't think food can get down into your lungs. Surely you noted the cough reflex when you nearly took the rice in the wrong way.
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  #3  
Old 12-24-2002, 11:43 AM
badmana badmana is offline
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Well, I figure the reflex was supposed to prevent food from "going down the wrong way" but we all know body functions don't always work 100% (we over ride gagging when smoking for instance).

I don't see why something tiny (rice, bugs, whatever) can't get into your lungs, even if you cough. Heck, it happend 30 minutes ago and I'm still trying to clear my throat which may mean I still got rice in my throat...well, maybe not.
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  #4  
Old 12-24-2002, 11:47 AM
sailor sailor is offline
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A droplet of liquid or a speck like a crumb can go into your windpipe and you'll be coughing for a long time. Anything bigger than that and you are in deepshit. Childre have died by having a peanut get into their widpipe and that is why you should never give peanuts or anything of that size to infants.

if something does get lodged in your trachea your best bet is to have someone who can do the Heimlich maneuver on you. Or you can just die and let the rest of us finish dinner.
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Old 12-24-2002, 11:54 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Lots of food has had to be removed by bronchoscopy. Bits of meat, nuts, vegetables, etc. I once had a patient who was a stroke victim aspirate a hunk of celery. He coughed it up a few hours later. Damned messy. As long as the foreign body doesn't clog up the mainstem bronchus, one can keep breathing adequately. But it's pretty uncomfortable.

QtM, MD
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  #6  
Old 12-24-2002, 12:05 PM
sailor sailor is offline
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BTW, I have a tendency to choke on food or drink and then cough like mad for a long, uncomfortable, time. I do not know if this is lack of coordination or that I need to pay more attention or what but it is very uncomfortable.

When people like to use the perfection of the human body as an argument for the existence of God I always counter that the human body seems like a very sloppy design to me. Why not have different orifices for air and for food? Why should they be connected? We are very badly designed.
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  #7  
Old 12-24-2002, 01:04 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
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Well, thats why we have a valve in the throat called the epiglottis. Kind of works like a mail chute
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  #8  
Old 12-24-2002, 01:13 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Well, I have a factoid from the 1970s floating around inside my head, and I can't find it on the Web, so maybe it was just a factoid, but anyway...

When those big beanbag chairs were first invented, they only had the one zipper closing and they tended to leak teeny styrofoam beads out into the room. And I remember being told (officially, like on the news or something), that it was dangerous to inhale those beads because they get down into your lungs and can only be removed surgically. So the beanbag chair manufacturers started making the chairs so that the problem of bead leakage went away, and I never heard any more about inhaling styrofoam beads.

FWIW.

Anyway, it is possible to have foreign objects get stuck and not necessarily be coughed up.

http://www.e-lungs.org/
Quote:
Foreign objects lodge more frequently in the right lung than in the left due to the length and orientation of the right bronchus. Beans, nuts, seeds or other organic matter lodged in the bronchi may lead to pneumonia. Metal or plastic objects may cause few symptoms except immediate coughing or choking. Objects should be removed via a bronchoscope.
http://www.ucihealth.com/News/UCI%20...dsNChoking.htm
Quote:
Stay alert. Not all choking incidences are obvious. Occasionally, food or foreign objects can lodge in a child’s throat or lungs when a parent isn’t watching, causing no emergency symptoms. Over several days, this foreign matter can cause chronic coughing or wheezing—and even lead to serious infection or pneumonia. To pinpoint the problem, doctors may order X-rays. But food and other organic matter are “radiolucent”—and not readily apparent on an X-ray. In this case, specialists at University Children’s Hospital perform a bronchoscopy to look inside a child’s airways and lungs, or a largyngoscopy to check the throat. Special equipment and surgical expertise are necessary to safely remove lodged foreign objects.
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  #9  
Old 12-24-2002, 02:11 PM
badmana badmana is offline
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Wow, who knew breathing was so dangerous.

So with stuff like dust and smoking, how does the lungs "clean" themselves after 10 years of smoking? I remember hearing (no cites) that your lungs can clean themselves in 20-25 years.
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  #10  
Old 12-24-2002, 02:20 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Lungs clean themselves of small particulate matter pretty easy and regularly with the cilia (hairlike structures) that line the bronchioles and sweep it out. Unless you smoke. This knocks out the cilia, and prevents lung cleaning. That's why ex-smokers can develop coughs that last for months: The cilia grow back and start catching up on their housework. But it a year or two they should be about as clean as they can get.

QtM, MD
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  #11  
Old 12-26-2002, 11:55 AM
tanstaafl tanstaafl is offline
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Quote:
sailor:When people like to use the perfection of the human body as an argument for the existence of God I always counter that the human body seems like a very sloppy design to me. Why not have different orifices for air and for food? Why should they be connected? We are very badly designed.
Reminds me of a joke I once heard. "God must be a civil engineer. Who else would run a sewer line through a recreational area?"
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  #12  
Old 12-28-2002, 08:42 AM
Scarf-Ace Scarf-Ace is offline
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I have to say, meringue should be banned, once got a piece stuck in my lung, with every breath it fluttered around causing horrific coughing.

I reckon a good lungful of swimming pool water does the trick on soluble matter.
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