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Lung. 2008;186 Suppl 1:S3-6. Epub 2007 Oct 2.

Before we get started: what is a cough?

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Department of Critical Care, University of Florence, Viale G B Morgagni, Florence, Italy.


Cough is an airway defensive reflex consisting of an inspiratory phase followed by a forced expiratory effort initially against a closed glottis, followed by active glottal opening and rapid expiratory flow. The expiration reflex (ER) differentiates from cough for the lack of a preparatory inspiration. The reflexes subserve different functions: cough will clear the lower airways from debris and mucus, while the expiration reflex will prevent aspiration. Clinically, a cough epoch is a sequence of motor acts resulting from a combination of true coughs and ERs that need to be accurately identified and measured for adequate quantitative description.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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