Otolaryngology & Communication Sciences

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Chronic Cough Program

A cough can be considered chronic if it lasts for more than three weeks.  The most common causes of cough in nonsmokers are postnasal drip syndrome (PNDS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and asthma.  In some cases, the cough may be psychogenic (or habit).

Behavioral intervention for chronic cough is initiated only after a complete medical work-up and appropriate medical treatment has been initiated.  Behavioral management is provided by a trained speech-language pathologist and addresses the non-medical components of the cough.

EVALUATION

A comprehensive case history is an integral part of the evaluation process.  It is important to determine the circumstances surrounding the onset of the cough and any precipitating factors.

The patient is asked to evaluate physical symptoms as well as the functional and emotional effects of the cough.

TREATMENT

Therapy begins with awareness.  It is important to know how often the cough occurs and what triggers it before alternative behaviors can be substituted.  Treatment may include a plan to gradually desensitize the body's response to cough triggers.

Length of treatment varies, but is generally two to four sessions with follow up in one month after discharge.

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