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Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2010 Feb;43(1):97-110, ix. doi: 10.1016/j.otc.2009.12.003.

Reflux and cough.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-HNS, University of Washington School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA.


Reflux is a significant contributor to cough in otolaryngology practice; cough is just one marker of its many negative effects on the upper aerodigestive tract. Reflux causes cough both by direct irritation/inflammation and by increasing sensitivities to other noxious agents. Detailed and diligent clinical evaluation, including laryngoscopy, is useful in advancing the working diagnosis of reflux-associated cough. Supplemental testing, including impedance monitoring of esophageal refluxate, can be important to evaluate for both acidic and nonacidic reflux exposure. The mainstay of treatment continues to be dietary and other lifestyle interventions and drug therapy. Although proton-pump inhibitor therapy is effective in most patients, especially those with acid reflux disease, prokinetic therapy is probably very important with those with combined acid and nonacid disease and those with pure nonacid disease. It is likely that failure to improve can be due to behavioral and drug compliance issues. Antireflux surgery can yield long-lasting positive outcomes in carefully selected patients despite the lower efficacy of treatment for primary upper aerodigestive tract symptoms (cough, hoarseness, sore throat) compared with heartburn and regurgitation.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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