Psychogenic cough in adults: a report of two cases and review of the literature

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2002 Jan-Feb;23(1):27-33.


Psychogenic cough, also known as "habit cough," is a well-documented condition in the pediatric and adolescent population, with numerous cases reported in the medical literature. Many of these patients are strikingly similar in their clinical characteristics and, although the data are limited, a variety of treatment options may be successful in terminating this form of cough. However, psychogenic cough in adults has been reported infrequently and is less well defined. We report two cases of psychogenic cough in adult patients referred to our service for an evaluation of refractory, chronic cough and review the relevant medical literature. Our patients seemingly represent the first cases of psychogenic cough reported in the geriatric population and share clinical features with children, adolescents, and young adults. One case is unique in the sense that the cough responded to a distracter in the form of a throat lozenge, and this patient consumed > or = 20 lozenges/day for approximately 13 years. Psychogenic cough should be considered in adult patients who present with a chronic cough of no obvious organic basis that has failed therapy directed at postnasal drip, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux. We propose criteria to assist in making a diagnosis of psychogenic cough in adult patients and review the limited information that exists concerning treatment modalities.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cough / diagnosis*
  • Cough / psychology*
  • Cough / therapy
  • Female
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Habits*
  • Humans