Objectives: To better understand factors associated with the development and persistence of habit cough and to report use of self-hypnosis for this condition.
Study design: A retrospective chart review was performed for 56 children and adolescents with habit cough. Interested patients were instructed in self-hypnosis for relaxation and to help ignore the cough-triggering sensation.
Results: The patients' mean age was 10.7 years. The cough was triggered by upper respiratory infections in 59%, asthma in 13%, exercise in 5%, and eating in 4%. Onset of the cough occurred as early as 2 years, and its average duration was 13 months (range, 2 weeks to 7 years). There was a high incidence of abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome in the 50% of the patients who missed more than 1 week of school because of their cough. Among the 51 patients who used hypnosis, the cough resolved during or immediately after the initial hypnosis instruction session in 78% and within 1 month in an additional 12%.
Conclusions: Habit cough is triggered by various physiologic conditions, related frequently to other diagnoses, and it is associated with significant school absence. Self-hypnosis offers a safe efficient treatment.