A woman coughed so hard she broke a rib, a new case report reveals after doctors feared she had flu.
The 66-year-old, whose name is unknown, sought medical assistance when she struggled to shake off a dry cough that had plagued her for two weeks.
She complained of pain in her right side and had a bruise running the distance from between her rib cage and hip.
CT scans revealed this was because she had a displaced fracture of her ninth rib, meaning the rib had broken and the two ends separated.
The break had also caused a hernia in her chest wall, according to report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The woman, from Massachusetts, was initially diagnosed with a viral respiratory infection with medics believing she had flu.
But her symptoms failed to improve and she returned to her doctor.
Swabs showed she tested positive for whooping cough – despite having been vaccinated against the killer bug eight years before.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.
The first symptoms of a whooping cough are similar to those of a cold, such as a runny nose, red and watery eyes, a sore throat, and a slightly raised temperature.
While it can be an unpleasant illness for anyone, whooping cough in infants can be extremely serious — it is fatal for one in every 500 babies who develop it.
The woman was treated with antibiotics and made a full recovery after undergoing surgery.
The new case report comes just days after doctors told the story of a British man who ruptured his throat when he tried to stop himself from sneezing.
The 34-year-old, who was not named, was rushed to A&E in excruciating pain after he held his nose and closed his mouth to try and stifle a sneeze.
He was kept in hospital for a week and had to be fed through a tube, doctors at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust wrote in the BMJ Case Reports.
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