The coughing phenomenon Photo: Pimthida via Flickr.

The coughing phenomenon

Jenna Simeonov

Anyone who has been to a classical-ish concert of sorts: what’s with that weird thing where there’s silence between movements/songs, and someone coughs, and then like twenty other people decide they too have to cough, and then there’s this weird period of time where what’s happening is everyone’s waiting for all potential coughers to get their coughing out and settle back down so the concert can continue?

Seriously, it’s one of those moments that shows a little picture of human nature. Does the initial cougher do so because they really were holding it in for the last little bit? Or is it a release of tension, brought on by impressive music and then a sudden, maybe uncomfortable, silence? Or are they one of those people who clears their throat in a way that sounds like a cough, and so they aren’t really aware of how disruptive their throat-clearing sound can be?

And then, why the subsequent peer pressure for other people to start coughing? Were these others also holding in the tickles and scratchy throats throughout the music, and they were relieved that they could finally cough it out without being the first person to break the silence? Or, did they not actually have to cough, but when they heard the first couple of people do it, they figured, “why not get it out now?”

Is the coughing domino effect sort of like when people pile crap up on an already-full garbage bin? Like, as long as they’re not the first or last cougher, they’re not disrupting anything?

You could say it’s a “ca-cough-ony.” Sorry.

We also tried for a little bit to find a video to show you of someone coughing while getting their vocal folds scoped, but it turns out that that’s not a good idea after all.

Instead, here’s a yummy-looking recipe for homemade honey, coconut oil, and cinnamon cough drops.

Related Content


Unlike other sites, we're keeping Schmopera ad-free. We want to keep our site clean and our opinions our own. Support us for as little as $1.00 per month.