These windpipe cells trigger coughs to keep water out of the lungs

Have you ever taken a gulp of water that goes down the wrong way? Or felt acid reflux bubbling up? It feels like your windpipe seizes up and you quickly emit a cough or maybe three.

Researchers now know which cells are responsible for that quick reaction. Neuroendocrine cells in the larynx and trachea, which make up the passageway from the mouth to the lungs, can sense water and acid passing through, a team reports in the April 19  Science. Those cells then communicate with the nervous system to trigger reflexes, like coughing.

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