Chronic cough isn’t all in your head — only part of it is
Posted Oct 22 2012 12:00am
Like many other bodily functions, coughing is a complex phenomenon that is under both conscious and unconscious control. Coughing during an acute bronchitis or after inhaling a lungful of seawater is vigorous and involuntary. A slight tickle in the back of the throat that creeps up when we’re on a first date or in a crowded theater, on the other hand, may or may not trigger a cough. The reasons lie in the complex neural interconnections between our chests, throats, and brains, a running conversation between lower-order reflex circuits (saying “Must! Cough! Now!”) and our higher cortical brain functions (which might reply, “Dude! I’m talking to this girl.”)
Jennifer Leech, Stuart B. Mazzone, and Michael J. Farrell have actually mapped some of the cortical areas producing the urge to cough and those brain areas that inhibit cough. They’ve drawn parallels between the active circuits in chronic cough and those of chronic pain, helping lead to a recent randomized trial showing gabapentin can improve chronic cough. Others have shown that nicotine gum reduces anxiety and the urge to cough in anxious smokers deprived of cigarettes.
In the October 2012 Chest, Ms. Leech et al ask an almost diabolically mischievous question: Can people be tricked out of coughing?
read this article from PulmCCM Central – click here