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Function: The Cough Reflex

If substances such as dust or excess mucus irritate the lungs or airways, they may be removed by the familiar reaction known as a cough. The irritation stimulates nerve cell receptors in the airways, sending signals to the brain, which then triggers the cough reflex.

The cough

During a cough, air, moisture, and foreign particles are noisily and forcefully expelled. This reflex action helps to clear irritant material from the airways, preventing it from causing damage.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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