A four-year-old boy who suffered from a strange, whistling cough was cured by doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. They removed a toy whistle that was lodged in his throat. According to a case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 9, the unnamed patient was brought to an otorhinolaryngology outpatient clinic last year with a "2-day history of persistent cough that had an intermittent whistling character." His parents reported that he had been playing with a whistle before the cough began.
When doctors took an X-ray of his chest, they found his left lung to be hyperinflated. According to Live Science, such hyperinflation can be caused by an object blocking the air passages to the lungs, so doctors decided to perform a rigid bronchoscopy - a procedure that involves inserting a thin tube called a bronchoscope down through the throat and into the lungs.
Using the bronchoscope, they were able to remove the object - which turned out to be a toy whistle.
"If it had been another foreign object lodged in his lungs, it would have caused noisy breathing or wheezing, but not a whistling sound," said report co-author, Dr Pirabu Sakthivel, a senior resident of head and neck surgery and oncology at AIIMS, to Live Science.
"Foreign bodies in the airways are common," he added. "But the whistling nature of cough is exceptionally rare."
An eight-second clip of the boy's "whistling cough" was shared on Facebook by The New England Journal of Medicine on August 10.
The child remained well at his one-year follow-up visit, said the New England Journal of Medicine report.
In March this year, doctors at a Nashik hospital saved a 5-year-old girl's life after she got a Rs 2 coin stuck in her throat.
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