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Symptoms of Chronic Cough:

  • Lasts longer than 8 weeks
  • A sensation or feeling of fullness in the throat
  • Throat clearing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Habitual mouth breathing
  • Feeling that the cough is uncontrollable
  • Cough triggers such as exposure to smoke, fumes, strong odors, changes in air temperature, anxiety, or activity (e.g. talking, laughter, or physical exercise)

Chronic cough is one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor's office. The impact of chronic cough includes:

Physical side effects – damage to the voice box or larynx, fatigue, and in severe cases pulled muscles, cracked ribs, incontinence, fainting, and vomiting

Social side effects – embarrassment, loss of productivity, limiting social activities

Financial side effects – costs of health-care consultations and medications

Medical treatment of cough, involving withdrawing certain medications or treating allergies, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, is effective in the majority of cases. However, despite the application of this treatment approach, cough persists in approximately 20% of patients.

 


Treatment Options for Chronic Cough

Chronic cough that has not responded to medical treatment can be treated effectively with speech pathology/therapy intervention. One research study revealed 87% of patients improved after participating in therapy.

Treatment teaches strategies to inhibit, suppress, delay, or interrupt cough and reduce cough stimulation. Examples of these strategies include:

  • Teaching patients how to voluntarily control cough, changing the common misconception that cough is only reflexive or involuntary.
  • Learning rescue breathing techniques to reduce the length and severity of coughing episodes.
  • Training patients how to identify when a cough is going to occur then implementing a strategy to prevent, inhibit, or replace the cough.

Adherence to a vocal hygiene program to maximize hydration and reduce laryngeal irritation is also part of the program.