What happens to food that goes down the wrong pipe?

We’ve all had a morsel go down the breather instead of the eater, but what happens to those cough-making bits?

pretty sure cilia on the tissue or some crap like that bring it back up…

Well, coughing itself helps expel some of it.

Macrophages in your lungs phagocytose foreign material, presumably including last night’s dinner.

In a worst-case scenario, it makes some bacteria very happy and they sit down there in your lungs munching on your taco salad and getting bacterial heartburn (OK, I made that last part up), resulting in aspiration pneumonia.

Only yesterday I was reading this story (with a happy ending) about a baby who aspirated a peanut.

So, ouch, the worst case scenario is bad.

Either you cough it back up or it stays there. If it stays there it can get ugly - as mentioned.

It can trigger an autoimmune response such as this case of pig brain mist being inhaled by processing workers.

My personal story (some ickyness involved)

Last year ( few days after Christmas) I inhaled something - couldn’t cough it up and I was REALLY trying I was even vomiting.
Fast forward to new years eve - I have been coughing steadily since the inhalation. I’m out with friend on a house boat and we are going down the river and I’m coughing my heart out - suddenly cough cough sploooork: a big gob of greeen goo containting a one winged fly :eek:
An hour later I coughed up the other wing.

I am now P.A.R.A.N.O.I.D about inhaling stuff

That’ll teach you to eat fast food. No more lunches on the fly, eh?

The other half of the story, or perhaps the story from the other half of the family:

In Korea I had this one young Sergeant who got a call from his wife that his son was choking and she was taking him to the hospital. He gets no more word from her and **no more sleep **for the next three days. There were no cell phones in those days so she could’t call him from the hospital. It turned out that the boy had inhaled a peanut and they got it out somehow.