You’re Coughing Your Lungs Out? Have Some Water!

glass of water cough

“Quick! Before you stop coughing! Chug this water!”

“OMG, Do you need water?”

I think it’s funny how, when you’re smack in the middle of a coughing fit, hacking away in fits and starts, there’s usually someone close by who’s ready, willing, and able to fetch you a glass of water. A glass of water you really don’t need.

Sometimes the heroic water fetcher won’t even wait for your go-ahead. They’ll just run to the faucet and pour you a glass and thrust it into your hand, which, might I add, is in no condition to properly balance a full glass of water. You’re too busy keeling over, hacking up a lung, your knees wobbling, your rib muscles spasming. Yeah, great time to deal with a glass of water.

[A beer bottle of water would be a different story. You can hold that without spilling it all over yourself. In fact I’ve recently written a whole post on the logic of switching to beer bottles for all of our household drinking needs, but that’s another day’s rant.]

Yet the fact that a currently coughing man or woman can’t properly balance or operate a glass of water is only a puddle of pee in a junkyard. The real idiocy is this: how are you supposed to drink and swallow water while you’re busy violently exhausting spit and phlegm out of your mouth? Your head is not exactly optimized for intake at that particular moment. If you were to really try and drink water during the climax of your coughing fit, you’d end up blasting it right back out into your “hero’s” face.

Of course, nobody ever actually drinks the water. They’re not stupid, they know what’ll happen. They’ll go through the motions of taking a brief wussy sip, and they’ll nod to their hero in gratitude, but they’re only just going through the motions. They’ve seen other people do this same non-verbal sip/gratitude motion a million times, so they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Just like the guy that gave you the water. His mother had done that for him many times growing up and now he’s passing it forward.

But do any of this water bearers ever stop and think about what the water’s supposed to do? How’s it supposed to help a guy who’s coughing his face off? Is H20 supposed to be some kind of natural,  cough suppressant or something? No. Just no.

Maybe it’s supposed to somehow drown the tittering Cough Demon who lives in your mouth.Yet one little glass of water would never be enough to drown such a creature, should it exist.

Perhaps the act of drinking the water is supposed to somehow distract you from further coughing, like how getting scared is supposed to cure the hiccups. No. After all, the act of drinking water from a glass does require a considerable share of mental recourses. The rest of your body might not have enough CPU remaining to process further coughing.

Hmm. Nah.

Actually, it’s pretty easy to imagine how this whole thing got started. Once upon a time, some dude was choking on something. Or maybe half-choking. A morsel of food was taking the scenic root down the dude’s throat, and the guy desperately motioned for somebody to go get him a glass of water to help wash the thing down into his belly. The water rescue was mounted and everybody was happy.

But the village idiot happened to be there too. He was a spectator in the room, and after watching the whole thing play out he simply made the wrong association. For him it wasn’t the choking, per say, that had been remedied by the glass of water. It was the “random head distress.”

The village idiot spread his newfound wisdom with the rest of the village and soon everybody was treating all loud head disturbances with H20. This, of course, included general coughing. The rest, folks, was history.

Reader: Are you a “water bearer?” Or do you just let the person cough away?

Check out article about swapping out all drinking glasses for empty beer bottles.




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4 Responses to You’re Coughing Your Lungs Out? Have Some Water!

  1. No, I pat them on the back, because that’s much more effective!! (ha, ha)

  2. ginjuh says:

    Okay, I could really geek out on this one, because I am a speech therapist and treat dysphagia (swallowing disorders, people who accidentally get food or drinks in their lungs when they swallow, which of course makes them cough). Anyway, I’m just going to say that when I see a person cough, I take his drink away until the coughing subsides. And then I bill for it.

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