HAVING A CHRONIC COUGH DURING COVID-19

What do you do when you have a chronic cough during a pandemic? Suck lozengers, cough into your elbow (not your hand) and stay home so people don't judge you.

THE COUGH THAT NEVER ENDS

I've had a cough for many, many years. No doctor has found a way to fix it for me - and I've had lots of advice from professionals, friends, and Dr Google as to why I cough and how to manage it. I think it's probably reflux related at its core, but ultimately it's a irritation somewhere deep down that gets triggered when I'm in cold air, or when I lie down, or lean back, or when I think about it too much, or when I try not to think about it too much, or..... anyway, you get the idea.

There's a great little ditty from Sherri and Lambchop (now this is going right back in history!) that was called "The Song that Doesn't End - it just goes on and on my friend" - I've included the YouTube clip of it below for your edification (apologies in advance!)



And that's what this cough is like for me - it never ends; it's just a small thing (that goes on and on my friend), and it's part of my life that's never been a huge problem (other than irritating my family) until these days of Coronavirus - when a cough signals that you might be carrying the dreaded plague.

BECOMING A PARAIAH

I seem to spend most of my days making sure I have a cough lozenger on hand if I'm going out, if I suck something then I'm less likely to get a dry tickle and cough. I swallow a lot, and I do my utmost to not think about the little itch at the back of my throat - once I think about it then I'm a goner - and nobody wants to be "that person" who coughs at the shops!

So, in these challenging times of COVID-19 I'm more than happy to stay home because I can cough in peace and my husband knows he's not about to catch a dreaded disease, so he just ignores it. I don't have to worry that I might get cold and feel like coughing, or swallow wrong and feel like coughing, or lean back in a chair and start to cough. No, I can just cough for a second or two and move on - utter bliss!

COUGHING ETIQUETTE 101

Another issue is the new coughing technique we're supposed to use to "stop the spread and stay healthy". All my life I've been taught that when you cough or sneeze you cover your mouth - with you hand. But that's a no-go these days, you need to cough into your elbow and I forget ALL THE TIME! My automatic response is to cover my mouth with my hand.....and the only thing worse than coughing is coughing onto your hand. I live in constant fear of forgetting the coughing protocol when I'm out in public, and being frowned on by the COVID police. 
Australian Govt Advice

COUGHERS OF THE WORLD

Chronic Coughers of the world you have my utmost sympathy - whether it's from reflux, or allergies, or irritation, I feel your pain. I hope you remember to cough into your elbow, I hope you aren't judged too harshly by those around you, and I hope this time of a cough being a symptom of something far greater passes quickly and we can go back to "just having a little cough".


A friend of mine calls my cough "my old lady cough" and as insulting as that may sound, (she loves that it's having a dig at me) I'd rather people thought it was from age than it was because I might be carrying a virus that could kill people. Times are indeed challenging in so many areas we never thought of before aren't they?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you have an "old lady cough" or allergies or some other "symptom" of Coronavirus? Do you remember to cough into your elbow or do you fail like me sometimes and cover your mouth with your hand? 

I also won't mention the number of times I touch my face in a day - that's another story in itself......

RELATED POSTS


What do you do when you have a chronic cough during a pandemic? Suck lozengers, cough into your elbow (not your hand) and stay home so people don't judge you.
What do you do when you have a chronic cough during a pandemic? Suck lozengers, cough into your elbow (not your hand) and stay home so people don't judge you.

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57 comments

  1. Cough drops is the answer. I take a medicine that part of the side-effects is a cough. It is hard but I manage with the help of cough drops.

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    1. I'm going through a lot of cough lollies atm Patrick - I'll probably have no teeth left by the end of coronavirus!

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  2. Oh dear.... that must be frustrating. I worked with someone who was a chronic throat-clearer. I suspect that's a less evil version of the never-ending cough, their struggle to clear their throat.

    I'd only be in trouble if itchiness was a symptom or rashes as I'm a chronic itcher. I can't help myself and will often rub areas of my legs in particular raw!!!

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    1. I used to do the throat clearing thing Deb - then it progressed to the cough - drives me crazy (and the family too) but when it becomes a "symptom" then it takes on a life of itself - hopefully itchiness doesn't!

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  3. Leanne, I can imagine how stressful that would be. I hope this ends soon so you don't have to go through that!

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    1. Me too Rita - or I'll have to buy shares in the cough drop business!

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  4. Sherri and Lambchop!! Now that really takes me back. (I was a #1 fan)!
    Richard had a never-ending cough for many, many years.
    But once we moved to Vancouver Island it magically disappeared.
    Stay well!

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    1. Another point scored for Vancouver Island Donns - what is NOT to love about that place?! Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory land - and I hope the song didn't get stuck in your head for too long (I'm still humming it!)

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  5. Oh, man...Sherri and Lamb Chop take me back! so sorry to read about your cough. It's terrible that you can't get any relief! I sometimes fail to cough into my elbow. Like you, I was taught to cough into my hand. I hope the cough police don't catch us with me!

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    1. It's the suspicious side-eye glances that you get when you cough these days Laurie - I never gave it a second thought befor COVID came to stay - now I feel like a leper!

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  6. Have you seen the take-off of Britney Spears' "Ooops I did it again, I just touched my face, it's the new cardinal sin"? My mum has a cough like that, sometimes I think it's a habit now, but they've never gotten to the bottom of it. At the moment it's, as you say, more of a problem. I asked her if she got looks and she said (in the way that only my mother can say it) "I don't care if I am getting looks Joanne. I know I don't have it and that's good enough for me."

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    1. See - it IS an "old lady cough"! I wish I was as unbothered by it as your Mum - I hate that people are judging me and fortunately I can usually control it enough to not get too many suspicious looks. I read that once the oesophagus gets irritated enough it becomes an inbred habit thing to cough or clear your throat. It's hard to stop something that's been going on for many years - your mum would agree I'm sure!

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  7. Leanne, what an unfortunate condition to have, especially now. My sympathies. I am definitely in the camp of folks who look up with alarm at the sound of a cough, a sneeze, or loud talking with a wind at your back, or people who get too close, the list goes on. I do judge, when people are careless, or selfish, but anyone who makes a mistake and acknowledges it with a sincere 'sorry' gets my immediate sympathy and appreciation. This situation has definitely escalated my tendencies toward becoming a germaphobe. Maybe you should print a sign and hang it around your neck - "I am not contagious." Take care. P.S. My mom has the same condition and I do to an extent, but not as severe. Spicy foods usually set me off. The first sip of a Bloody Mary is killer!

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    1. See Suzanne - the "old lady cough" thing is definitely the descriptor for it! It's probably doing me good to have to control it more - I'm not sure how much of it is physical and how much is habit or whatever. The throat clearing thing is even more annoying to the people who have to live with it, so maybe a cough is the lesser of the two evils? It will be nice when this is all a distant memory - but you're right about us all becoming more germ conscious!

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  8. When it first started, I was still getting over a cough that I had since the bushfires started (so about 5 months) and was in the chemist and coughed and said "It's not the virus, it's been since the bushfires" that made everyone even more scared of me - like I was insane not just contageous. The face touching, tho, who knew we did it SO much???

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    1. The face touching is a big one for me Lydia - I've never worn foundation because I end up with it on my fingertips and then on my keyboard! This is all such a big learning curve - all the 'don't touch' and 'don't cough' and 'use your elbow' stuff is doing my head in.

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  9. Hi Leanne, I get hayfever which is unavoidable with all the pollens in Australia. It is embarrassing to sneeze and get 10 people swivel their heads towards you in horror! I hope that one day you get relief from your cough! It must be awful to seek medical attention and they can't get to the bottom of it.

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    1. At least sneezing isn't supposed to be a symptom for COVID, but people are all so paranoid these days that any sign of a cold gets people's backs up. I'm assuming my cough is like my headaches - just something I live with and I'm grateful it's not something worse. It's been good practice to try not to cough so much though.

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  10. Hi Leanne, I have a type of asthmatic cough if I'm in cold air - more like a barking dog really! I also tend to have it walking through the freezer area in the supermarket. At the moment you only have to blink the wrong way for people to think you have the dreaded COVID-19. Thanks for sharing and co hosting #MLSTL and have a great week. x

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    1. Another thing we have in common BBB! Yes cold air definitely triggers mine (or even feeling cold) and I hate that I'm scaring innocent people because of some stupid little tickle in the back of my throat - fun times indeed!

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  11. Hi Leanne, What a frustrating condition to have. I hope the cough drops help you during this time when you need to go out. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Natalie - sucking something definitely improves the situation - I'm thinking of carrying a stone around to suck on - it won't rot my teeth!

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  12. The nuisance cough has become more of an issue, recently. You are right, how there is coughing etiquette. I find young children are being schooled in the right way to cough. Gosh, life has many more rules, Leanne. I am not too bad on the coughing. Many other “old lady” issues. 🙂 Hugs to you Leanne. Take care, hang in there and stay safe. xx

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    1. Hi Erica - our granddaughter was doing the elbow cough the other day when we video chatted - apparently they were taught it in kindergarten! I'm still trying to get it right - it just feels weird. I think "nuisance cough" is a great term for it - because that describes it perfectly.

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  13. You poor thing. I can just imagine the looks of horror and people scattering to safety if you cough in public! lol (sorry to laugh). As for the elbow thing, I think EVERYONE struggles with that. In fact I've even seen the politicians on TV standing at the lectern addressing the media having a little cough into their 'hands' (shock/horror)! I'm glad the lozenges help you! xo

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    1. It is funny in a weird COVID world Min - except to the people who look on in horror. I'm getting better at working out how to not cough outside the house - and staying warm is a big one - so I'll be in a cardigan at the shops and sucking away on my cough lolly!

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  14. I can only imagine your distress in these days of COVID-19 Leanne, and it's just as well that you're happy to stay at home at the moment! It's like when they say don't touch your face, the first thing I HAVE to do is touch my face. Wishing you well for when you venture out into public, with a bag full of lozenges! Have pinned of #mlstl

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    1. Hi Deb - the face touching is a big one for me too - I immediately do it when I'm trying desperately not to! I think the cough works the same way - I have to get it out of my head and then I'm fine - as soon as I start worrying about it then the tickle starts and I'm a goner!

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  15. Hi Leanne - These days coughing in public can attract the attention of other people! How this world has changed!
    No, I don't have cough, allergic or any other. The last time I had must have been some three or four years ago.
    About a month ago, I had some irritation in my throat, but not so much as a cough. I don't know what it was. It went off after four or five days.
    O, regarding touching the face, less said the better. Waiting to read your post on it.

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    1. Pradeep I'm a major face toucher - I lean on my hand, scratch my nose, rub my eyes, and the list goes on. My husband keeps telling me not to touch my eyes - and between not touching and not coughing, COVID is doing my head in!

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  16. I understand completely. I have that cough myself. And I even take medication for reflux. It’s annoying for me and others but it doesn’t go away so I live with it. And I have to clear my throat as well. Nice to know I’m not alone.

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    1. Linda!! A fellow cougher!! I took reflux meds for ages but they didn't fix me - they do help keep it under control - as do antacid tablets. The throat clearing thing is just as annoying (or more so) than the coughing to those who have to live with us. I'm hoping that trying to keep it under control might be the beginning of mastering it (not liking my chances though!)

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  17. Many people who take BP medicine have a chronic cough. I cough anytime that I have ice cream or any other really cold thing. But recently, I've started pretend coughing when I'm outside and someone walks by me who isn't wearing masks because I want them to think twice about going out again without one. And I also want them to get away from me with their unmasked faces. Yes, I have a mask on, but I want you to have one on too so we can be twice as safe! Next, I'll start driving around with a bullhorn and mask-shaming people.

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    1. We haven't taken on the mask wearing (or glove wearing) thing much where I live because there's no current cases in the surrounding areas, but I'm still very aware of doing the right thing and people who invade my space do my head in. So if that bugs me, I figure any little cough would bug someone else, so my aim is to stay warm (cold is definitely a trigger) and to keep sucking on those cough lollies if I feel the tickle starting.

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  18. My husband is a 'loud sneezer' and the slightest thing will set off his sneezing. After the pandemic hit I have to coach him before he goes out to makes sure he sneezes into his elbow and not attract unnecessary attention!! In the last few weeks, wearing a mask in public places is mandatory in India, so at least he will sneeze into his mask! The times we're living in, I tell you.

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    1. We haven't gotten to mandatory mask wearing here in Australia Corinne - less dense population and we shut the country down early enough to have it all under control. That doesn't mean that people aren't super conscious of coughers though - and the elbow cough is something I'm not sure that I'll ever truly master - I'm working on prevention rather than cure atm.

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  19. Hi Leanne, I'm so glad you posted this and hope it helped you vent as well as illustrate you are human like the rest of us. The COVID-19 Pandemic presents an opportunity for us to learn how to best take care of ourselves, while adjusting our personal habits so they don't impact others. Thanks for hosting #MLSTL. Stay safe, be well, and lead a colorful life.

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    1. Hi Nancy - it's been such a "thing" since COVID started - something that wasn't even remarked on (except by my family) is now enough to freak people out. I'm very conscious of the need to stop it rather than manage it - so I'm doing a lot of sucking and swallowing - so far it's pretty okay - but there's still a long way to go before a cough is just a "cough" again.

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  20. I have a ten or fifteen minute long sneezing episode every evening. I have no idea what causes it. it doesn't matter if I am home or in the car or someplace else. I will sneeze 20 or 30 times in short succession. Then it is over. It is strange and I am not sick and do not have a cold. So I understand your coughing experience. I also forget about the sneezing into the elbow thing- it is hard to overcome lifelong habits! .

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    1. I'm not sure who invented the elbow sneeze/cough technique but I wish they'd come up with it when I was more teachable and less ingrained Michele. It's strange how things that were never an issue have now become bigger than Ben Hur - and we're all so aware of what others might be thinking. I definitely need a sign saying that "it's not a COVID cough"!

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  21. My better half has the same problems between chronic and persistent bronchitis, then heading into an early and bad spring allergy season. This winter was out 3+ weeks with it. But you're right - not the time to be coughing in public. They went back to work at Walmart & gets the dirtiest looks when a coughing attack sneaks up.
    I can sympathize with you!

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    1. Thanks Trisha - I'd love to not be a cougher - it annoys me as much (if not more) than it annoys the people around me, but it is what it is. Now I just have to keep it even more under control so I don't freak out my fellow shoppers - your husband has my sympathies too x

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  22. I can definitely relate to this. Between my allergies and sinus issues, I cough all year round. I keep a cup of tea at my elbow always! Thanks for putting this topic out there.
    Sincerely, Joan
    In Pursuit of Happiness
    https://kindness-compassion-and-coaching.com

    PS - would like to discuss a possible collaboration opportunity with you, but couldn't find a "contact me" button on your site... if you would like more info, please email me at what.i.have.learned.so.far@gmail.com. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Joan - I'm thinking I should become one of those "water hippies" (as my daughter calls them) you know, those people who can't go anywhere without a water bottle in their hand - then I could sip more and cough less!
      I've sent you an email in regard to your PS part as well x

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  23. I can empathise with you Leanne. In the last couple of weeks before I finished work I was so stressed if I had to cough. I must admit if a customer coughed I did judge that she may have the virus. We’re all so terrified of catching it. Like you I’m happy to stay home away from all that stress #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Jennifer - I think the coughing thing escalates when we worry about it and when we're out and about. I'm fine if I'm calm and warm and settled, but cold air, or thinking about it too much will often get me started - and people are very suspicious of coughers atm - so home is definitely the best place to be!

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  24. Ah, another cougher here! Mine started with bout(S) of whooping cough and left some residual scarring. A specialist ENT guy put a camera down my nose into my throat for that diagnosis. I was "pleased" it was "only that". He added, the next time I saw him for a follow up with the fact that some mild reflux also contributes. What to do? For me, it seems allergies/change of air give it a go and so I take care to use Fess Nasal Spray and sometimes Nasonex. I carry water with me always - that is also part of having had HN cancer but yes, I understand the "NON Covid Cough" thing. Denyse #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Denyse - I think mine is caused by my oesophagus being irritated for so long by reflux and then it's become an entrenched irritation and tickle. I'm thinking the water sipping idea may be something I need to pursue - I've resisted carrying a water bottle around with me, but it might be the answer to the problem - especially as the air starts getting colder.

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  25. Hi Leanne, I learnt to cough into my elbow in Russia (before that it was always into my hand). You just can't cough into your hand and then hold the rail in the metro immediately after - you'll get death looks or worse from everyone in the carriage! My husband has an old man 'clearing the throat' thing happening - often. It drives me nuts! I'm currently suffering from hayfever (it's spring here), so I'm sneezing left, right and centre, trying to suppress the sneezes while we're outside in case someone thinks I'm ill. What unusual times we're living in! :-)

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    1. Hi Cheryl - I used to do the throat clearing thing for years and drove my family insane - it progressed to a cough - which is slightly less annoying (and less people live here now to be annoyed by it!) I wonder if we'll all be washing our hands and coughing into our elbows all the time once this is over - a new focus on hygiene (not a bad thing really I guess).

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    2. Sure, hygiene is important, but it's also important to 'get germed' if you know what I mean. Our immune system needs germs and viruses to stay strong and fight. I always wash my hands when I arrive home from somewhere, or when I arrive at someone else's home (not right now, obviously!), and after the toilet (of course), but I really believe that washing our hands too often, being too 'clean' is going to be a problem for our health, not the other way around. Having said that, I'm happy for everyone to cough into their elbows, I'm not a fan of being coughed on by strangers! :-)

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  26. Oh man, Leanne, that's rough. I've said to my husband several times throughout this ordeal that I feel for anyone with asthma or any other chronic cough. We've been doing the cough in your elbow thing for a while, so that's natural for me now, but I do remember as a child, covering my mouth with my hands, which is definitely a no-no for spreading germs. It's amazing we survived at all! :-) #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Cheryl - I think using public transport probably retrains you in cough control. I'm learning to avoid the triggers where possible - cold air is a big one, and to always have something with me to suck on if I feel the throat tickle starting. Nobody wants to be "that person" in these tricky times!

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  27. I feel for you with that pesky cough. I always have a strepsil when I go out due to a tickle that can start at any time. I will need a blood test soon, the pathology has the big sign on the door not to come in if you have a 'cough' etc. LOL if I try not to cough, I am sure I will. Probably get thrown outside. Our Elise has chosen your post to be featured in the next Blogger's Pit Stop. Congratulations.
    Kathleen

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    1. Hi Kathleen - I think a pesky cough is often a part of getting older and normally it's just annoying....but in these weird times it's like a warning beacon to everyone around us (hence the cough lozengers!) Thanks so much to Elise for the feature. x

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  28. Leanne, thank you so much so writing this. I am appalled at people who don't seem to care how what they do may effect others. I don't expect people to be paralyzed with fear of the virus, that's not helpful. But to disrespect others seems selfish. Sure,high risk people should stay home as much as possible, but not all can. Even people at low risk don't want to get sick if it can be prevented and those are the ones who are out in public working. Pardon my rant, thanks again.

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    1. Hi Aletha - thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. This virus has made us all a lot more aware of how easy it is to transmit a bug to someone else, and when it's all over I think we'll all be a bit more careful when we're out in public. I'll certainly be wiping down my shopping trolley and washing my hands more in the future!

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