Dr Laurie Slovarp on Preventing and Suppressing Chronic Cough Events

Most people are aware of what triggers their chronic cough and how to temporarily suppress it, said Laurie Slovarp, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor in the School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences at University of Montana.

Most people are aware of what triggers their chronic cough and how to temporarily suppress it, said Laurie Slovarp, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor in the School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences at University of Montana.

Transcript

Do patients with chronic cough usually know what they're sensitive to or does that get figured out as part of therapy?

Some patients are very aware, and some people are not. I find that most people that are really sensitive to scents are fairly aware, especially when I ask them things like, "Do you avoid the soap aisle at the grocery store?" or "Do you avoid going into Bath and Body Works?" And even if I have asked them, "Do you know what triggers your cough?" they may even say "No," but then I ask them that question and then they say, "Oh, yes I do." So, some people are really aware but others aren't aware at all. Some patients will say they don't feel it coming, like there's no warning. But then in the session, right in front of me, I can tell a cough is coming and I can point it out to them and say, "See, you do know. You feel it coming because I can tell you're trying not to cough right now." So a lot of the therapy is also increasing their awareness as to that feeling that's coming, even if it's super brief, but then also what is it that's causing you to cough.

Do patients usually realize that there is something they can do to suppress their chronic cough?

It is pretty common that people will say, "Well, sometimes drinking water helps." I occasionally have a few patients that have said, "If I breathe a certain way, I can get it to go away." But that's not very common. The other thing is, even if they have discovered a way that they could possibly suppress it, it's usually only temporary because the suppression—especially in the beginning—can take a while. So, I tell people, "You might have to do this particular breathing strategy for 2 to 3 minutes before the sensation actually goes away." And usually when they're trying to suppress, it's only for a few seconds to a minute, where they're trying to just get themselves to a different room so they can have their coughing fit. Generally they feel like they can fend it off for a little while but not suppress it completely. And they've never been told that, if they can successfully suppress consistently, that that will be an effective treatment.