Q: When I wear my corset for a period of time I develop an intermittent cough that tends to originate lower in my chest. It is usually not productive but occasionally I will get something up.  It seems to come on most when I am talking, but sometimes just being relaxed. I had the thought that maybe it is the beginning of pneumonia, since it seems to originate low in my lungs. If I stop wearing the corset for a couple of days, the symptoms seem to diminish. Could wearing a corset cause something like this, or just cause spasms of the diaphragm? I plan on visiting my family doctor soon if this doesn't get better, which I doubt it will on its own.  There have been lots of other times I have worn a tighter corset than this for several days at a time with no noticeable side effects, so tend to think there is no connection --Bill (2/4/00)

A: First you have to assess the air quality you are breathing, in particular the humidity, which should be above 65%.  Depending on where you live, cold winter air will quickly dry out the upper airways and allow particles to enter the lungs, causing irritation. Laced in, the lower portion of the lungs extending down at the back will tend to get minimal flow, due to the chest constriction.

In return, lower lung irritations that are normally worked up by the bronchial "hairs" are less effective and fluid can build up. In essence, the air quality can predispose a corset wearer to becoming congested. 

You may find out by performing an upper torso left/right rotating exercise (in corset) with arms spread out horizontally: Not moving the feet, rotate at least 90 degrees in each direction, then raise the arms, which will likely stimulate the cough and help clear the lungs. This was the typical 19th century doctor's recommendation, because advising removal of the corset would not have been followed. In your case you do have this option, so I would suggest exercising the chest.

If the problem persists you may have picked up an infection, which needs to be remedied by a visit to the family doctor. Drink lots of fluids, avoid drying out the nose and mouth, and exercise.


Return to Main Medical Advice Page

Return to LISA's Main Page