Why Do I Cough When I Laugh?- Understand The Mind-Body Puzzle


Laughter, a joyful expression that can bring tears of happiness, has a lesser-known companion for some individuals – an unexpected coughing fit.

Have you ever wondered why do I cough when I laugh? It’s a rather curious and sometimes uncomfortable occurrence.

Let’s explore the causes of this occurrence, including the exciting relationship between laughing and coughing and how it all fits together.

The Physiology of Coughing

Before delving into the intricacies of laughter-induced coughing, let’s first comprehend its mechanics. Coughing is nature’s way of safeguarding our respiratory system.

The brain triggers a reflex action when the airways encounter irritants or mucus buildup. This results in a forceful exhalation, efficiently expelling the irritants and maintaining clear air passages.

Click to Understand the physiology of cough in depth.

Laughter and coughing may appear distant cousins, but they share a closer relationship than one might imagine. Both actions involve the respiratory system, albeit serving distinct purposes.

While laughter fills us with joy, coughing diligently protects our lungs. The convergence lies in the mechanics – laughing induces rapid airflow as the diaphragm contracts and relaxes, and therein lies the subtle link to coughing.

Why do i cough when i laugh too hard?

You find something hilarious, and laughter ensues. During this mirthful episode, the glottis, a small opening between the vocal cords, remains ajar for brief moments. Usually, during calm breathing, the glottis remains shut.

However, the temporary opening during laughter allows tiny saliva particles to sneak into the airways. In response, the body activates its cough reflex to expel these intruders, leading to an occasional cough amidst the laughter.

Factors That May Trigger Coughing When Laughing

Several factors may contribute to the likelihood of experiencing coughing during laughter:

  1. Pre-existing Respiratory Conditions : If you have a history of respiratory problems, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, your airways may be more susceptible. This heightened sensitivity can make you susceptible to coughing when laughing.
  2. Allergies and Sensitivities : For individuals with allergies or sensitivities, laughter in environments with irritants like dust, pollen, or strong odors may trigger coughing.
  3. Irritants in the Environment : Exposure to smoke, pollutants, or other respiratory irritants can increase the likelihood of coughing when laughter strikes.

Personal Experience: Coughing During Laughter with a Respiratory Disease

During the initial stages of my respiratory ailment, I, too, encountered this curious situation. Seeking answers, I sought advice from Dr. Vijil Rahulan, a distinguished Transplant Pulmonologist practicing at the renowned KIMS Hospital Hyderabad in India.

Sharing my dilemma, I inquired about this peculiar issue. With great patience, Dr. Vijil Rahulan explained that coughing during laughter can be relatively common, especially for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

The heightened airflow during laughter may irritate the airways, leading to the occasional cough. To minimize such episodes, he suggested effective management of my respiratory condition through appropriate medication and lifestyle adjustments.

Managing Coughing Episodes During Laughter

If you find yourself frequently grappling with coughing when laughter ensues, consider adopting these measures to manage and reduce its occurrence:

Home Remedies

  • Maintain proper hydration to keep the airways moist and less prone to irritation.
  • Enhance the humidity in your living spaces with a humidifier to create a soothing environment for your respiratory system.
  • Be aware of the possible irritants or allergens in your surroundings and take attempts to prevent exposure. You can invest in best air purifiers.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises, strengthening your respiratory muscles and promoting healthier breathing patterns.

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Cough suppressants can offer temporary relief from coughing episodes during laughter.
  • If allergies contribute to your cough, consider antihistamines to alleviate symptoms.


  • If coughing during laughter becomes a persistent and disruptive companion, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. An expert evaluation can shed light on your respiratory health, identify underlying conditions, and provide tailored guidance.

Tips for Preventing Coughing During Laughter

Though it might be challenging to eliminate coughing during laughter, implementing these tips may reduce its frequency

  • Remain vigilant about your respiratory health and adhere to prescribed management strategies for any pre-existing conditions.
  • Avoid potential respiratory irritants, especially in settings where laughter may be more likely.
  • Consciously take slower and deeper breaths when laughter erupts to minimize the intake of airborne particles.
  • Explore laughter exercises to gradually strengthen your respiratory system, turning laughter into an enjoyable and wholesome experience.

How Laughter Benefits Health

Intriguingly, even with its occasional side effect of coughing, laughter holds a treasure trove of health benefits. The mere act of laughter triggers the release of endorphins – nature’s feel-good hormones.

These delightful chemicals promote feelings of happiness and effectively diminish stress. Moreover, laughter’s positive influence extends to cardiovascular health, immunity, and the fostering of social connections.

When to Be Concerned About Coughing During Laughter

In most cases, coughing during laughter is a transient and harmless occurrence. However, it is crucial to be aware of the following warning indications that require medical attention:

  • Frequent coughing episodes during laughter
  • Coughing accompanied by difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • Coughing that produces blood in the mucus
  • Any signs of respiratory distress


The intriguing connection between laughter and coughing unveils a fascinating interplay within our bodies. Coughing during laughter, though peculiar, is generally harmless.

The rapid airflow and the slight opening of the glottis during laughter can lead to this occasional side effect. For those with respiratory conditions or sensitivities, a proactive approach to managing the condition and avoiding potential irritants may ease the situation.

Accept the numerous health benefits that laughter bestows on us, even if it causes the odd cough because laughter is a great gift that enriches our life.

She is also a heart & lung transplant recipient. She is very passionate about respiratory health. She conducts meetings through various digital sources and collects feedback from people—and has had excellent knowledge of using respiratory equipment for eight years.

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