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Cough. 2009 Mar 17;5:4. doi: 10.1186/1745-9974-5-4.

Chronic cough and laryngeal dysfunction improve with specific treatment of cough and paradoxical vocal fold movement.

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Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases, School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 2308, NSW, Australia.



Chronic persistent cough can be associated with laryngeal dysfunction that leads to symptoms such as dysphonia, sensory hyperresponsiveness to capsaicin, and motor dysfunction with paradoxical vocal fold movement and variable extrathoracic airflow obstruction (reduced inspiratory airflow). Successful therapy of chronic persistent cough improves symptoms and sensory hyperresponsiveness. The effects of treatment for chronic cough on laryngeal dysfunction are not known.


The aim of this study was to investigate effects of therapy for chronic cough and paradoxical vocal fold movement.


Adults with chronic cough (n = 24) were assessed before and after treatment for chronic persistent cough by measuring quality of life, extrathoracic airway hyperresponsiveness to hypertonic saline provocation, capsaicin cough reflex hypersensitivity and fibreoptic laryngoscopy to observe paradoxical vocal fold movement. Subjects with chronic cough were classified into those with (n = 14) or without (n = 10) paradoxical vocal fold movement based on direct observation at laryngoscopy.


Following treatment there was a significant improvement in cough related quality of life and cough reflex sensitivity in both groups. Subjects with chronic cough and paradoxical vocal fold movement also had additional improvements in extrathoracic airway hyperresponsiveness and paradoxical vocal fold movement. The degree of improvement in cough reflex sensitivity correlated with the improvement in extrathoracic airway hyperresponsiveness.


Laryngeal dysfunction is common in chronic persistent cough, where it is manifest as paradoxical vocal fold movement and extrathoracic airway hyperresponsiveness. Successful treatment for chronic persistent cough leads to improvements in these features of laryngeal dysfunction.

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